New sergeants keep CACC campuses safe

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2019

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The various campuses of Coastal Alabama Community College are made greater by the communities they inhabit. And in so many ways, those communities are enhanced by the College’s historic presence. 

Such is the case when it comes to law enforcement, especially since the recent employment of sergeants Jared Douglas and Ethan Elmore. The sergeants are in charge of protecting students and faculty at the Brewton and Thomasville campuses, respectively.  

Combined, the two have nearly 20 years of experience as police officers, yet some citizens on- and off-campus continue to ask, “Are you a real police officer?” The answer is a resounding “yes.” Douglas and Elmore are eager to interact with those they serve so that everyone understands just how valuable they can be in and around Coastal Alabama Community College. 

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“I want them to trust me to be able to handle this situation just as they would any other police officer when it’s here on campus,” Elmore said. “We’re trained and equipped to handle the unique challenges you see on college campuses that you might not see in a city police department or our city society.” 

A Thomasville native, Elmore attended Alabama Southern Community College in Thomasville before it became Coastal Alabama Community College, and has since received his master’s degree in justice administration. The 27-year-old has worked for the Mobile and Bay Minette police departments and is a certified FBI crisis negotiator, emergency driving instructor, SWAT team operator and is the part-time chief of police for the rural Fulton Police Department. 

As for the sergeant located on the Brewton campus, Jared Douglas has experienced much more than just policing since joining the College. 

“The thing about college police is you’re not just a police officer, you’re a mentor, a counselor, a friend and you’re an authority figure, too,” Douglas said. “I’ve had a lot of students who are successful now and have come back and said we’ve made a difference for them, that they appreciate everything we did for them.” 

Having an impact on future generations is a huge win for 34-year-old Douglas, a veteran of the war in Iraq who served nine years in the U.S. Army Airborne. He said his experience serving overseas has given him a tremendous perspective, which he plans to share with others at the College. 

“I just believe in treating people right and telling them, appreciate what you have in America,” Douglas said. 

He received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, and as a reservist was hired by the Montgomery Police Department, where he worked for several years before joining Coastal Alabama Community College. Growing up in Mobile, Douglas was heavily influenced by his aunt and uncle, who were customs and border patrol agents, respectively. 

These days, he finds himself in a position to influence and educate people on a daily basis. Since joining the Brewton campus, he has helped develop an active shooter training program for students. Every summer, the preparedness classes are offered, and Douglas has started inviting the public to enroll, as well as local high school students. 

“It’s very intense because we have real firearms that shoot blanks,” he said. “It’s live fire so they get to see and hear what a gunshot sounds like and how the police respond.”

As sergeants, Douglas oversees five other officers across the Brewton and Atmore campuses while Elmore has nine under his command across the Thomasville and Monroeville campuses. And nearly as important as their ability to lead is their capacity to work with the other law enforcement agencies in their respective areas. 

Douglas and Elmore, like all Coastal Alabama police officers, are officers of the state, and mutual aid is a cornerstone of their duties. Elmore’s work on the tri-county SWAT team requires him to work with officers and agents from Clarke, Choctaw and Washington counties, which can be very helpful when his department and other agencies need help in real time. 

Mutual aid has led to the apprehension of felons on several of the College’s campuses and is a major reason Douglas carries radios for the Escambia County Sheriff’s Department and the Brewton Police Department. In the spring semester alone, he and his officers were able to confiscate five illegal firearms from the College campus. 

In the spring of 2020, Elmore will begin teaching criminal justice classes at the Thomasville campus. It’s just one more way for him to connect with the people in the community he serves. 

“I find that a lot of the mistrust and misinformation the public has about police today comes from simply a lack of education about what we do, why we do it, and what we don’t do and why we don’t do it,” he said. “I try to be the most approachable police officer you have ever met in your life.”

The Coastal Alabama Community College Police Department (CAPD) currently employs 10 full-time officers and 21 part-time officers.  All officers are APOSTC certified and maintain critical certifications to maximize the safety of the Coastal Alabama campuses.