As a Community Oriented police officer Jonathan Wolfe is often described as the modern version of Officer Friendly.
An 11-year veteran of the Ridgeland Police force, and native of Louisville, MS, Officer Wolfe had previously worked on the campus police force at Mississippi State University. Family brought him here and he subsequently joined the Ridgeland PD after going through the necessary prerequisites.
Aren’t all police officers “community oriented,” though? Here’s how Officer Wolfe explains his title and duties and answers the question.
“Community policing requires more public visibility especially in specific neighborhoods,” he says. “I see the same people every day, approach them in a friendly way and find out what they need, their concerns and what we, as a police force, can do to better serve them or make them feel safe. It could be anything from a barking dog to parking on the street–so we also help resolve disputes between neighbors in a, hopefully, peaceful way that everybody can live with.”
Officer Wolfe deals with his share of heated disputes, he says, but does his best to calm tempers.
“It’s all about coming together and all of us–me included–being willing to help each other. Neighborhoods, and I include here apartment complexes, function much better if everybody gets on the same page and gets along. That’s one of the main aspects of my job: to patrol, stop and talk to folks and make sure that they all DO get along. Unfortunately, these days, it seems we’ve all gotten away from neighbors wanting to get to know each other which is one reason why ‘Neighborhood Night Out’ was started several years ago. It’s held here in Mississippi now in October because the weather is cooler and it is a chance for us all–city officials and police and fire officers–to get to better know they people they serve and work for.”
We asked Officer Wolfe if he thinks, in light of some recent events and rhetoric, if his–and the job of all police officers–are thankless.
“Actually, here, we’re getting more respect. I’m very proud to say that this community values and appreciates their police officers,” he answers. “People stop me all the time to thank me for what I do, they offer to buy my lunch and so forth, and I’ve heard that’s the reaction other officers here get. It really encourages us to do our best. Look, without the community we wouldn’t have a job. We’re aware of that.”
A former member of the Army National Guard, Officer Wolfe says that crime fluctuates at any given time–which is typical–but he describes Ridgeland as a safe community and one with very low crime in proportion to other areas.
With three daughters of his own, Officer Wolfe takes his job seriously–as do all of the Ridgeland officers–but has had his share of amusing and funny calls.
“I’ve had to chase horses on Livingston Road,” he laughs, “and catching cats is always a big dilemma! I’ve been called to catch snakes in someone’s yard–you name it, and I’ve probably seen it. Just recently I responded to a 911 hang up call and it turned out to be a child who had gotten the phone and decided to play. Our jobs are dangerous sometimes, and certainly serious, but we get some comical things to deal with,” he chuckles.
His favorite part of the job?
“Again, just meeting and helping people,” Officer Wolfe responds. “Without a doubt. I love to talk,” he laughs, “and I really enjoy chatting with people here in Ridgeland and getting to know them on a first name basis.”
So if you see Officer Jonathan Wolfe out and about–which you probably will–be sure to stop him, thank him for his service and take to him for a while. But try and handle your snakes on your own if you can! “I recommend an old-fashioned hoe,” our Officer Of The Month chuckles.