New SRO in Town

Deputy Jessica Manning Takes Over GHS’ School Resource Officer Job


Submitted Photo

Fresh Face Sarpy County Sherrif’s Office Deputy Jessica Manning will be taking over as the GHS School Resource Officer. “Sometimes we all have our rough moments and feel down, but I’m a good listener and I’m here to help support the students and help them achieve their goals safely.” Deputy Manning said. She has more than 11 years of experience with the department and is a Sarpy County native.

Having police in schools can be one of the most polarizing issues in America. As of late, their number one job has been something that was unimaginable until the 1980s, keeping kids safe from mass-casualty attacks. Still, that high-profile task overshadows thousands of other aspects of the job that any School Resource Officer deals with, in one day. During the quarantine related absence of students at GHS, a changing of the guard occurred at this highly important position with Deputy Jessica Manning replacing Deputy Dale LaSonde as School Resource Officer.

Q: What is some background information about you? Where are you from?
A: Sarpy County! My dad was in the Air Force and I was born in Bellevue and have been here locally ever since. Believe it or not, I was HOMESCHOOLED! My first ever school lunch was at Gretna High School a few months ago when I covered for Deputy Dale one day, and I was invited to join in for lunch. I went to college at Bellevue University and have a Bachelor’s Degree in Security Management.

Q: How long have you been a police officer? What jobs within the department did you have before taking the SRO job?
A: I was hired in 2009 by the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, straight out of college. So I have been here for almost 11 years. During college, I worked in Assets Protection for Target. Since I started working for Sarpy, I have worked as a deputy in the jail, on road patrol and in court services. I also am proud to be on our Honor Guard team.

Q: Why did you want to become a police officer?
A: I wanted to (hopefully) help make people’s days a little better and a little brighter if I could. I also wanted to stop bad things from happening to people. Arresting bad guys is definitely a big part of my job, but talking to people, listening to them and helping them solve problems is also a major part.

Q: Why did you want to work specifically as a School Resource Officer?
A: I really like kids (of all ages). I have two step-kids (a 15 year old and a 13 year old) and I also have two small children of my own (4 years old and 8 months old). Young people have so much creativity, ideas and potential to make the world a better place. Sometimes we all have our rough moments and feel down, but I’m a good listener and I’m here to help support the students and help them achieve their goals safely.

Q: When you’re not on duty, what are your favorite things to do?
A: Travel! I have been to all 50 states and 8 foreign countries, and a number of islands in the Caribbean. I like to fly places, take the train, or road-trip. I have started sharing many of my favorite places with my kids!

Q: You’ve met our last SRO Deputy Dale, what would you say are the similarities/differences between yourself and him?
A: I know Deputy Dale very well. We both care a lot about the people we interact with and want the best for them. We are both here to support and encourage the students and try to help them make the best decisions. But Deputy Dale is a lot older than me (SORRY DEPUTY DALE!) and has a background in the Marines. I have no military background, and you’ll see the SRO office in the high school has been rearranged a bit with different style decorations.

Q: What are some of the most important aspects of the job?
A: Treating each person like a human being. We all deserve respect. No matter what we have going on in our lives or how much we might disagree, we can respect the people we interact with. Also, one of my biggest priorities is the safety of the school and everybody in it. I want everybody to go home safe at the end of every day.

Q: What are some things you have to watch out for?

A: There are always things to notice and be aware of. We always want to look into suspicious people or people who don’t seem to belong on school grounds. We want to take care of each other too. If somebody is struggling, I want to help. I’m not here to make anybody’s life more difficult or worse, I’m here to hopefully help it go better or more smoothly.

Q: How is policing in a school different than being out in the rest of the county working with adults?
A: Well I don’t have to turn on my lights and sirens and go chasing anybody down the hall! Just kidding. Kids tend to be more interested in saying hi and getting to know you than adults are. When I work out on the streets, I meet random people and don’t have time to get to know anybody. In the schools, I have the ability to interact with the same people over several years and learn more about them.

Q: If you had an introductory statement from yourself to the school’s students what would it be?
A: I’m really sorry you all didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to Deputy Dale. I know he misses you all very much. I am a new face around the schools, but I hope to be able to follow in the footsteps of Deputy Dale and fit into the Gretna Schools Community. Please stop me in the halls or stop into my office to say hi and to chat. I want to get to know you, and I want to be there for you. You can come talk to me anytime, for anything big or small. If I don’t know the answer, I’ll tell you that and I’ll do my best to find out. I do ask that you are always honest with me, just like I will be honest with you. The truth always finds a way to come out, but there’s no problem we can’t fix or address if we just know what it is. I look forward to meeting all of you once the school year starts back up again!