Mansfield Police Officer Jack Shay talks with students in the cafeteria at Malabar Intermediate School.
When Officer Jack Shay says goodbye to Malabar Intermediate School for retirement next month he will leave “the best job in the Mansfield Police Department.”
Shay is the department’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E) officer. He has taught intermediate and middle school students to avoid the use of controlled drugs, membership in gangs and violent behavior.
But for the last 15 of his 21 years with the police department he also has functioned as a resource officer at Malabar.
“I have had such a positive experience at Malabar,” Shay said. “The police department and Mansfield City Schools treat me as a resource officer when I am not teaching D.A.R.E. I look out for security weaknesses and point them out. I try to make the kids feel safe and comfortable so they can learn.
“My goal has been to present a positive image of a police officer. I have been treated like a staff member at Malabar and I will miss the daily high-fives, handshakes and hugs with the kids.”
Principal Andrea Moyer said Shay “will be greatly missed by all of us.”
“Jack provides a source of safety for our school,” Moyer said. “His presence alone makes students and staff feel better. He talks with students at lunch and in the hallways. He helps Assistant Principal Tom Hager and me talk to some students about the severity of the decisions they have made and how in the future the consequences could turn out much worse.”
Born in Pennsylvania, Shay grew up in Ashland. He was hired by Mansfield Chief of Police Lawrence Harper in December 1996 after 20 years in the U.S. Air Force.
“I was always very thankful to Chief Harper for hiring me and for the continuing support of Chiefs Phil Messer, Dino Sgambellone and Ken Coontz,” Shay said. “And I can’t thank the community enough. D.A.R.E. is important to me. There were a couple of times the program was threatened by budget constraints but each time the community came through with support to keep it going.
“This is the best job in the police department. I have had so many great experiences with kids and teachers and I have met and worked with so many great people in the district. I have always had support. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful 15 years.”
When Shay retires on Feb. 3 Officer Orlando Chapman, a Mansfield Senior High graduate, will take over the D.A.R.E. program.
Shay’s effectiveness over the years is measured in part by former students, many with children of their own now, who greet him throughout the community.
“They’ve gone from being waist-high to taller than I am. They know me but I often don’t recognize them,” he said.
“I was at the Columbus Zoo in street clothes once when I was stopped by a former student who said he was in my D.A.R.E. class. I said, ‘No, you couldn’t have been. I didn’t have anyone 6 feet 6 inches tall in my class.’”