Reflecting on 30 years serving the SDSU Police Department, Detective Chris Jacobsen said professional relationships and contributing to a strong team will provide lasting memories.
Making a difference
“It is the small things that are rewarding,” said Jacobsen, who retired from the San Diego State University Police Department in December 2011.
“It was the stuff that wasn’t very glamorous. It was the cases and situations that you don’t hear about in the news, but that you really feel made a difference.”
Jacobsen, a native San Diegan, joined the campus police department in 1982 after receiving a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration from SDSU. While it is now clear that Jacobsen was destined for a career in law enforcement, it wasn’t evident at first.
“I was interested in law enforcement, but I wasn’t convinced that it was for me. So, I decided that I would give it a try for four years. I still remember day one at the police academy thinking ‘wow, we’ve got four months of this?’”
To serve and protect
From that moment, Jacobsen never looked back. He went from being a junior officer handling crimes of possession to being chosen as the department’s liaison for the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force.
The SDSU Police Department entrusted him with the planning and execution of high-profile events on campus. He provided a security detail for dignitaries such as Hillary Clinton, Jerry Brown and Robert Mueller, and in 2009, Jacobsen investigated the fatal stabbing of Luis Santos on campus.
It was the cases and situations that you don’t hear about in the news, but that you really feel made a difference.
“Merging onto that case with the San Diego Police Department and watching it unfold in court afterward was really meaningful, because you could see how much the death of that young man devastated his family. To have even been involved in that case meant a lot to me.”
Jacobsen attributes his overwhelming satisfaction with the sense of gratification that came from working on cases like Santos’ and his success to the hardworking staff at the SDSU Police Department.
Shaping the culture
“Detective Jacobsen has essentially shaped the culture of this department, said SDSU Police Department Capt. Lamine Secka. Not only has he served as a mentor, but he always been the ‘go to’ guy. He takes with him a lot of expertise that is irreplaceable."
However, Jacobsen, who received the San Diego County Officer of the Year Award in 2000, is reluctant to accept such high praise. He doesn’t see himself as a role model or mentor.
“A lot of what I did as far as being a resource to junior officers and teaching them what I know, was just paying back what I had been taught. If I were able to return that favor, I would consider it high praise,” Jacobsen said.