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Oxford Exchange Club Honors OLC’s Jeffrey Dukes as Officer of the Month

By Rick Hynum
for Hottytoddy.com

As the Oxford Learning Center’s School Resource Officer (SRO), Jeffrey Dukes is more than a campus cop. When students need a friend to lean on, Dukes is there. When they need to be taught some manners, he can do that, too.

Officer Jefrey Dukes. Photo provided.

According to Yolanda Logan, principal of the Oxford Learning Center (OLC), Dukes is a hometown hero who goes above and beyond the call of duty every day. Thanks to his devotion to his work, Dukes was recently named Officer of the Month for October by the Exchange Club of Oxford.

The OLC is the Oxford School District’s alternative school. Most students attend OLC on a temporary basis for academic or disciplinary issues.

As the SRO, Dukes’ primary responsibility, Logan said, is to “keep a safe and orderly school. He does that perfectly. But he is a hands-on officer who’s doing things we didn’t even ask him to. It might be something as serious as stopping a fight or being proactive to prevent an argument, or it could be that someone’s having a very hard day. Whether we need a softer approach or a harder approach, he’s there for that as well.”

Assigned for a while to a desk job in the Warrants Division, Dukes, who has been a police officer for more than 10 years, wasn’t feeling fulfilled in his work, he said. “Working in the office and doing paperwork, I lost a little bit of my motivation,” he said. “I lost that fire.”

Dukes has three young daughters of his own and quickly seized the opportunity to work with students at OLC.

“I love kids,” he said. “When you’ve been able to go to college and experience a professional life as I have, you have something you can bring back to the kids and let them know what you’ve done and what they can do with their lives.”

Dukes helps to keep young people on the straight-and-narrow path so they can return to their regular schools quickly.

“Since Jeffrey was assigned to the SRO [position] from the Warrants Division, his impact cannot be overstated,” said fellow OPD officer Donovan Lyons, who nominated Dukes for the Exchange Club honor. “He has deep ties to the community and an uncanny ability to talk to the young people he works with every day at the OLC. The relationships he has built in the community are valuable assets to both his job as SRO and the department.”

In the past month, Dukes has also played an integral role in locating and assisting in the capture of two juvenile suspects. “One of the suspects had escaped from custody, and the other ran from officers while armed with a firearm,” Lyons said. “On both occasions, Jeffery had personal knowledge of both suspects and was able to contact them and notify detectives for their surrender without incident.”

As a nontraditional school, OLC offers a mix of programming ranging from weekly yoga classes to sports, Logan said. Known for his athleticism and competitive spirit, Dukes often joins the kids in physical education games, such as disc golf and basketball.

“He’s right in the midst of it, and they can’t wait to play against him,” Logan said.

Most students just need to know someone believes in them, Dukes said.

“They’re great kids. But some people will give up on them, and when the kids see you don’t care, that’s where they go wrong,” he said. “We have whites, blacks, Hispanics, Middle Eastern kids … they call me Uncle Jeffery because I’m always there. But I will, if I have to, take them outside. That’s what they understand. If they don’t have that at home, I try to give that to them just like I give it to my own kids.”

The Exchange Club of Oxford is one of Oxford’s leading service organizations, with a focus on prevention of child abuse, Americanism, community service and youth programs. Among its many projects, the nonprofit supports the Exchange Club Family Center in Oxford, which works to improve the quality of life for at-risk families by breaking the cycle of child abuse and neglect through prevention, intervention and educational services.

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