Black History Month Highlight: Captain Preston Jacobs
No Man Is An Island. No Man Walks Alone
In honor of Black History Month, Chief Scott Silverii and the Thibodaux Police Department honors the legacy of a man still fondly remembered more than 20 years since his passing.
Preston “Jake” Jacobs began his career with the Thibodaux Police Department in April of 1969. He was only the second black man to join the agency, and was hired by then Police Chief Earl Melancon Sr., who spoke very highly of Jake at the time of his death.
Despite the challenges of beginning his career in 1969, he quickly rose to the rank of Sergeant, and excelled in the community and TPD by earning the rank of Lieutenant by 1972. Jake went on to earn the position of Captain, and served under three different Police Chiefs as Assistant Chief of Police.
Although many, Captain Jacobs is not remembered for the rank or commendation awards, but for the lives he touched and the life he lived.
Captain Jacobs’ life was cut short in 1992 after a battle with cancer, but his legacy continues. The outpouring of support from the community at the time of his passing touched his beloved wife Eva Jacobs. She was moved to write this letter to the Editor at the Daily Comet in January 1993 and share it with you again today.
“No man is an island. No man walks alone… Even though these are among my saddest days, it is also a time of great blessing knowing that I am surrounded by such a warm and outreaching community. This makes me realize that I am not alone. No man is an island. No man walks alone.”
His picture is still respectfully displayed at the Thibodaux Police Department, and when young officers ask who is in the photograph, it allows others to share the story and the life of Jake.
As a young Police Officer, current Captain Brian Rhodes speaks of Captain Jacobs with an almost church-like reverence. He was a man whose greatest accomplishments were not in the police reports he wrote; but rather written on the hearts of those whose lives he touched.
Captain Rhodes shares as he tells of a man who would take the time to visit troubled youth, and speak with them and their families in their home. “He always had a hand shake for you. All class. I not only looked up to him, I wanted to be just like him.”
Captain Jacobs’ revealed his heart in a letter written several decades ago found in his official Thibodaux Police Department Personnel file:
“I believe a Police Officer must listen carefully, understand well, and be humane… I strive always to be conscious of the qualities of honesty, integrity, courtesy, patience, humaneness and the ability to enforce the law fairly and objectively… no matter what the crime, the person who commits the crime are human beings under God and should always be viewed and treated as such… to be selected and sworn in as a law enforcement officer is a privilege that carries with it responsibilities; primarily, as our spiritual leaders tell us, ‘we are our brother’s keepers’.”
Just words to some, but to Captain Jacobs it was the creed he lived by. At his passing, now deceased former Chief of Police Earl Melancon Sr. was quoted as saying
“Because of the racial unrest and race-related riots during the era, Jacobs’ first years as a police officer were difficult for him and the police department. Jacobs played an important role during the time and served the black and white communities impartially. Both communities respected him. To be a black officer, he had to do his job and be well liked, and that’s what he did.”
We honor you Captain Preston “Jake” Jacobs, with this tribute. The real honor though, is that more than 20 years later, your legacy continues. We salute you, and may we all learn from your life.
“No man is an island. No man walks alone.”
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