Jeff Adams always wanted to be a police officer. Growing up in Severna Park, he was raised to help others, and police work was a natural fit.
More than three decades after graduating from Severna Park High School, Jeff Adams is now a police captain and the new commanding officer of his hometown Eastern District Police Station in Pasadena.
“Throughout my career, I've gone to other divisions, but now I've worked my way back home,” Adams said. “I really like it here, it’s a great place.”
Adams worked at Fort Meade briefly before applying to become a police officer. Baltimore City accepted him, and he worked more than four years there, and then transferred to the Anne Arundel County Police Department. His transition to Anne Arundel County was actually his first homecoming as an officer. As a patrolman in the Eastern District in the ‘90s, he covered familiar ground in Pasadena, Severna Park, Arnold and Cape St. Claire.
“I knew all of that area growing up, and it was great to be a police officer there,” explained Adams. “I was glad to come back to where I grew up. You take a little pride when you work in an area that you grew up in.”
Whether it was city streets or county patrols, Adams honed his craft following a simple principle, the Golden Rule.
“The way I was raised is to always treat someone the way you want to be treated,” he said. “I went from the inner city in Baltimore to Severna Park, but I treat people fairly and that’s just the way I am as a person, and that’s how I carry myself as a policeman. I’ve taken that through my whole police career, and I’ve been pretty successful with it.”
In July, Adams came back to the Eastern District, which includes Pasadena, Severna Park, Arnold and parts of Glenn Burnie - now as the commanding officer.
“As a captain, they put you where they need you,” he explained. “I worked in the chief’s office as a captain; went to northern as a captain; then they asked me to come back to eastern, and I was very happy to come back. It’s like coming home again.”
Adams is now charged with leading a large, diverse team that provides everything from patrols to specialized units. His focus is being in touch and active with the community, a priority he imparts while coaching and mentoring the four platoons of officers, who serve throughout the district 24 hours a day and 365 days a year.
“As the captain here at eastern, that’s what I want to instill in these young officers,” he said. “I try to instill in them to make contact with the community, especially if you work the same area.
“You should know the people in your post – good and bad – and it’s important to get out, and take time to talk to people and get to know them. People feel that trust if you’re interacting with them regularly. If you just drive by in the car – the fishbowl as I call it – they don’t typically have a positive idea of us.”
The goal is to create opportunities to have positive and personal interactions with the people they serve.
“It’s easy to think, ‘Oh there goes the police; the only time I see them is when they stop me for a ticket or tell me why I’m wrong,’” Adams said. “I’m trying to [develop] a relationship with the community. We know not everyone likes the police, but if you see them in situations where there’s no tension or a hectic situation, they may realize that, ‘Oh hey, that guy or gal is OK.’”
Adams also encourages members of the community to be actively involved. The third Wednesday of the month at 7:30pm, the Eastern District hosts the Police Community Relations Council (PCRC).
“We can tell the community what’s going on in the district. If they have concerns they can bring them up to us directly,” said Adams. “I’d love to see more people coming to those meetings.”
If residents have concerns for their communities, would like to see more police presence, or would like an officer to speak at a community meeting, Adams wants people to know that all they have to do is reach out.
The area will also see an increased presence when holiday patrols start in late November and throughout December, when shopping centers will have extra officers. Adams is quick to point out that the police are not out to lock people up or chase people around. They’re out and active to provide a positive presence in the communities that they serve.
“For Eastern [District], my goal - and I’ve only been here a couple of months - is to really push community interaction,” he reiterated. “We’re a part of the community. I want our officers to reach out and be part of the community; don’t just say you’re part of the community and ride by.”