Columbus native Jayden French’s love for law enforcement dates back to when he was just a grade-school kid at West Park Elementary.
“Back then when they would ask you, ‘What do you want to do when you grow up?’ I was one of those kids who said he wanted to be a cop,” French recalled. “I’ve always been interested in law enforcement; I’ve always supported law enforcement.”
Fast forward years later, the 2021 Columbus High School graduate’s aspirations have become a reality. French was recently given a conditional appointment to become a Columbus Police Department officer subject to the successful completion of all necessary tests and training. Columbus Police Chief Charles Sherer and Mayor Jim Bulkley introduced French to the City Council during its regular meeting on May 15th.
French has joined the force in a conditional status before going to the basic law enforcement training academy in late August at the Law Enforcement Training Center in Grand Island. That training will go through most of December, and if French is certified, he would then transition to CPD’s Field Training Officer (FTO) process. As part of that 14-week initiative, the police chief said French will work with different officers. If he successfully completes that, he would then be sworn in and assigned a regular shift and team.
The new officer brings experience and familiarity with the community and department. He recently graduated with an associate degree from Central Community College-Columbus with an emphasis in criminal justice.
But arguably equally as important is that he’s coming off a semester internship with CPD that helped him decide to pursue a career in Columbus as opposed to bigger communities like Omaha and Lincoln.
“I learned a lot from it. I couldn’t have picked a better place to do it,” French said. “Every officer was really supportive and helpful with my questions. I gained certain knowledge at college in a classroom, but I think I gained an even better knowledge of law enforcement when I was riding with officers and seeing what it’s like.
“There’s a lot to it that the community doesn’t really realize. It just sparked my interest more.”
But the real tipping point for French was seeing the bond among all the officers in Columbus.
“What’ve learned is that it’s like a family here. it’s a brotherhood,” he said. “I just wouldn’t want to work anywhere else but here.”
For Chief Sherer, that’s a point of pride. He’s hoping future interns will follow in French’s footsteps and want to pursue a career with CPD, whether from Columbus or elsewhere.
“I think it means we’re sending the right message to the community,” he said. “It means that we’re sending the right message to potential applicants.”
Sherer added that French made the most of his internship, making it an easy decision to have him go through the application process.
“We’re excited to have Jayden join our department. His work as an intern was one of the things that stood out to me as far as (a person) I thought would be a good police officer for us,” the chief said. “I got a good idea of his work ethic. People here were impressed with Jayden and thought he’d be a good fit, so I’m excited he decided to pursue a career with us.”
Of course, the Columbus Police Department is hoping to add a few more officers to the team. Those interested can contact City HR Director Tammy Orender at 402-564-8584 for questions or visit columbusne.us/Jobs.Aspx.
As for French, he’s ready to get rolling and help make a difference in Columbus.
“I’m very excited to get to the academy and excel in that, get through FTO as well,” French said. “I’m someone who is always willing to go the extra mile for anybody and put other people before myself. That’s just always how I’ve been. I feel like law enforcement is a great way to do that.”
Check out French's video message for the community on our YouTube channel.