Unlike politicians or reality tv ‘stars,’ police officers are not exactly publicity hounds.
Police work, by its very nature, is solitary. Two people, armed, set out on patrol in a car to find at minimum the ridiculous side of human nature, at maximum, its darkest. These people have the same selfless, protective gene as those who sign up, unbidden, for military service, with a side of adventure-lust thrown in for good measure.
So as Marco PD Captain Dave Baer puts it, talking to a reporter is about as much fun for a cop as getting a tooth filled. “It brings out their inner lone wolf.” In other words, when these guys share how and why they do what they do, they’re humoring us (the journalists.)
Officer Jason Nachtrab works the 6pm to 6 am shift and was recovering from an injury sustained while corralling a troublesome drunk during our deadline. As such, he made for an elusive in-person interviewee. He was, however, a good sport about responding to some serious email pestering. He’s also quite compelling in his own words:
Q: Dave [Baer] tells me you are one of the department’s original officers. When did you join? What was your position?
JN: I am one of the original officers hired. I started on September 13, 1999. I was hired for the position of Officer.
Q:Have the department’s challenges of policing Marco grown since then? If so, how would you describe them?
JN: I would not say the challenges of policing Marco have grown. I would just say that the volume of calls has greatly increased as the population of the island has grown.
Q: How long have you been working night shift? How does that differ from the typical policing most of us see during the day?
JN: I have been working night shift for the majority of my time on Marco. I have worked approximately two shifts (6 months) during the day in the 11 plus years I’ve been here.
Night shift differs from day policing in that there are significantly more alcohol related calls, whether they involve domestic disputes, fights, DUI’s, or other such disturbances.
Q: Can you share one or two unusual calls that stand out for you? One that was especially rewarding?
JN: On two separate occasions, I, along with the other officers on my shift, were responsible for arresting multiple subjects involved with stealing boats not only from Marco Island but statewide. The first incident we actually caught them on the stolen boat and the second time we were able to catch them before they could steal a boat.
Another, more recent incident involved a group of kids who had been breaking into cars throughout Marco. Again, along with my fellow officers, we made several arrests and we were able to tie these subjects to well over 20 vehicle burglaries.
Q: Dave (Baer) tells me you are a sports/fitness guru, and that you run a voluntary fitness program for the department. Will you please describe the program? Why do you think this is important for the officers to do?
JN: I would not describe myself as a fitness guru, however I do enjoy working out and staying in shape. I am in charge of our department’s fitness program. We take part in it twice a year.
The program consists of the following tests: a vertical jump, the maximum number of sit-ups completed in a minute, a 300 meter run, a maximum number of pushups in one minute, and a 1.5 mile run. The officer is given a score for each test based on his or her performance and one for overall fitness. Based on their overall scores, the officers are rewarded a certain amount of comp time for their effort.
I feel it is important for officers to stay in shape, not only so they can perform their duties as police officers but more importantly, so they can live long, healthy lives.
Q: What is LOJACK? How does the department use this?
JN: LOJACK is a vehicle theft recovery system which enables police departments to track and recover stolen vehicles. A couple of our police vehicles are equiped with the LOJACK devices. When a car is stolen, and the car has the LOJACK system, the agency can activate the LOJACK.
Once the LOJACK is activated and the stolen car comes into our area, the device in the police car will activate. Based on the information we are given from this device we can then determine the stolen car’s location.
Q: Where are you from and what motivated you to come to Marco? Do you have a law enforcement background from another state?
JN: I am originally from Toledo, Ohio. I worked for the City of Bowling Green (OH) as a police officer for three years prior to coming to Marco.
My wife, who I was still dating at the time, had wanted to move to Florida upon her graduation from college to be closer to her family already living here.
So I figured if she was “the one” I had better start looking for job opportunities in Florida. Therefore I guess it wasn’t “what” motivated me to come to Marco but rather “who.”