By Tiffany Merlo Phelps
St. Johns County Deputy Jared Monie, Ponte Vedra High’s Youth Resource Officer, doesn’t spend much time in his office. He likes to walk the hallways, chat with students, get in a few fist bumps and regularly attend sports games.
“I like to get out and mingle with the kids and talk to them. I ask them about their vacations and their weekend plans and things like that,” said Monie, who has three children of his own. “Several of our kids have suffered injuries or have been hospitalized for various reasons. I will always call the parents and check on them and just offer any help that I can. I feel like kids nowadays need to know that law enforcement is in their corner, and that’s what I try to do.”
It is from this vantage point that Monie recently started the Law Enforcement Club at Ponte Vedra High with a dual-focus in mind: improve young peoples’ perception of law enforcement and encourage students to consider a law enforcement career. This club is strongly supported by Sheriff Robert Hardwick.
“Engaging with the youth of our county is one of my top priorities as your sheriff,” Hardwick said. “I am proud that our agency members are being innovative and finding multiple ways to make that happen as I believe it is vital to our success as a county.”
Monie said the club is open to any Ponte Vedra High student at any grade level with no fees or requirements at this time. A few students have shown interest in the club and several students contacted Monie in response to the first meeting held in February. Meetings will be held monthly.
Freshman Paulina Sidhu attended the first meeting and has a strong interest in the field of forensics. (Ponte Vedra High is the only high school in the district to offer forensics classes.)
“There are so many different paths and interesting careers that many people do not know about within law enforcement. I’m excited to learn about all the different paths one can take,” said Sidhu. “Going on this journey with other club members will make it fun and interesting along the way.”
Sidhu sees a larger purpose too.
“I would also like to help promote breaking the stigma of our police officers and law enforcement in general. They are human beings with a lot to offer,” said Sidhu, who credits her uncle with sparking her interest in law enforcement and governmental relations. “My Uncle Nash Singh Sidhu was the Superintendent of Police in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He retired with the rank of Senior Assistant Commissioner and held the post of Deputy Director of Internal Security and Public Order. He is a well rounded and interesting person, not just a ‘cop.’”
Sidhu is looking forward to learning from professionals in the field, especially in forensics. Sidhu explained that she would like to learn about on the job procedures such as how to analyze blood splatters.
Monie said field trips will be planned and will include visiting the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office and touring the main facilities while meeting different department directors.
Monie has been in law enforcement for 17 years, working in patrol, investigations, property crimes and internal affairs. He plans to share all that experience with club members and help guide them through career course choices.
Monie became an officer after hearing his dad’s stories about being a police officer back in the 1960s and 1970s.
“I also grew up watching ‘Cops’ and all those other police shows, so I knew from an early age that was what I wanted to do,” said Monie.
However, Monie said he never envisioned himself working as a Youth Resource Officer until it was suggested to him. His only request was that he wanted to work at a high school.
“As it turns out, it has been the best decision in my career,” said Monie, who has been at Ponte Vedra High School for one year.
Monie sees the club as a great way to mentor students and offer some direction, something he was lucky enough to receive throughout his career. He said he would have loved to be in a club like this when he was in high school.
“When I first became a deputy, my first sergeant and corporal (Sgt. Randy McCullough and Cpl. Chuck Griffin, both now retired) were instrumental in getting me where I am today as a law enforcement officer. They took the time to guide me and show me the right way of doing things. I always think about them, even to this day,” said Monie.
Email Deputy Monie at email@example.com for more information about joining the Law Enforcement Club.
Photo courtesy Michael Harrison
Deputy Jared Monie (left) with Athletic Director Michael Harrison cheering on the Ponte Vedra Sharks.