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The oldest police rookie

64-year-old doesn't want a rocking chair — he wants to be a policeman

Published: Tuesday, Nov. 14 2000 1:45 p.m. MST

At a time in life when most people are thinking about retirement, Harry Jackson is looking for a new challenge in life.

Jackson is a cadet in the Utah Peace Officers Standards and Training (POST) academy. By the time he completes the 20-week course in March, the "rookie" will be 65.

Jackson is believed to be the oldest cadet to go through POST training in Utah.

"I'm definitely not ready for the rockin' chair," Jackson said.

Going through POST training can be physically draining on a cadet who's only 24. What makes Jackson so remarkable is, in addition to his age, he had quintuple bypass heart surgery only a year ago.

"It's just something I've always wanted to do," said Jackson of his efforts in trying to become a police officer. "I think there's still time for me to make a difference."

Jackson is used to hard work. He spent 10 years in active duty for the U.S. Navy and 17 years in the Naval Reserve.

Today, he is a boiler pressure vessel inspector for an insurance company.

The most common question Jackson is asked: "What do you plan to do if you pass the academy?"

"I thought I'd try to get a job with an agency in a small town either as a full-time officer or a reserve," Jackson said. But he said he would wait until March before making any final decisions.

Jackson is going to have to push himself to meet the physical standards required for graduation, POST director Sid Groll said.

The challenge won't end there. After graduation, Groll said, the competition among new cadets for jobs is stiff. But he said Jackson's attitude in class is tremendous and getting a job is not out of the question.

The other cadets in the class are highly supportive of Jackson's efforts.

"I really expected some people to laugh at me or say, 'You're crazy,' " Jackson said.

But instead of using words such as "nuts" or "crazy," his classmates describe Jackson as a "hard worker," an "animal."

"He's out there busting his butt," Elyse Charter said. "He's one of the most determined people here. I have so much respect for him."

Jackson said his experience should be a lesson to all people in their 60s or older: If you have a goal or if there's something you've always wanted to do, you should just go for it.

"Some of the people at work ask me when I'm going to retire, and I say I haven't really thought about it."


E-MAIL: preavy@desnews.com

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