LIVE OAK, Fla. — Jacob Williamson didn’t think anything of it.
Stopping by Suwannee Intermediate School during snow cone time June 4, the Suwannee County deputy saw a handful of school children not enjoying the treat.
When he found out they didn’t have money with them to get a snow cone, he took matters into his own hands.
“It was one of those things on a whim,” he said about paying for the eight children to get a snow cone, adding he normally doesn’t carry cash but just happened to have some that day.
“It’s just one of those things I didn’t want anybody to go without. They may not have even known the snow cone machine was coming that day.”
It also wasn’t the first time since becoming a school resource officer at Suwannee Middle School at the start of this past school year that Williamson had done something of that nature. He said he has used lunches and treats as incentives for various students, whether it be to strive to move from the B honor roll to the AB honor roll or maybe even for a student to improve their behavior.
He also said he’s not alone in doing those things.
“It’s something that happens every day and a lot of people don’t see it and a lot of people don’t hear about it,” he said. “It happens all the time. It’s not just me. It’s all the SROs. It just happened someone snapped a picture I guess.”
Indeed. Julie Griswold, the 21st Century Program’s site coordinator at SIS, took a picture of Williamson’s act of kindness and shared it on Facebook.
When Williamson returned that afternoon to SMS to fill out some paperwork, he found out that day’s gesture wasn’t going to be like all the previous one’s and go unnoticed.
Rather he heard from staff at the school that he was “Facebook famous.”
Still, Williamson doesn’t think much of the act that has netted hm attention.
“It’s one of those things that if you’re in the right spot to do it, it’s the right thing to do,” he said.
It’s also part of his purpose at the school and as an officer. Williamson said cop actually stands for “community oriented policing” and that philosophy is instrumental in producing safe communities and results.
Relationships are key, whether it’s an officer working patrol or patrolling the hallways of schools.
“If you can build that relationship with those kids, they’ll remember that for a long time and those are the kids that are coming up to my school,” he said about the snow cone purchase example, adding he leaves his door open at the school in the hopes students feel welcomed to discuss whatever they want with him. “They’ll remember that. They’ll know me as the cop that bought me a snow cone.
“That’s a foundation you can build on.”
After all, Williamson remembers where the foundation of his career was laid — at SMS by Gary Edwards, Tommy Abercrombie and Allen Bonds. He even keeps an old bow he found one day while working for Abercrombie on his wall as a memento and a reminder.
“The guys that instilled a lot of the stuff I know and trust in as far as being a good person, giving back to your community and as simple as mentorship like they did for me, all those simple things that didn’t mean anything to them back then carried me all through my law enforcement career and academic career and now I’m in a position to do the same thing,” he said. “That’s kind of cool.”
So is buying snow cones for some children.
And their reaction.
“Fun to see them have joy,” Williamson said. “There’s nothing in this world better than a kid having pure joy. It’s cool.”