Sgt. Jennifer Frank has worked in Norwich for eight months, and before that for three years as a school resource officer in Windsor, and before that for 10 years at Plymouth State University as a state-funded officer focused on sexual assaults and child pornography.
But before all that, she was a high school social studies teacher and happy in her work.
“I believe I do have one of the better ‘welcome to law enforcement’ stories,” Frank said, riding one day in her cruiser.
That story began one June morning in class at Mascoma Regional High School, where Frank was in the middle of a lecture on Richard Nixon. A special needs student with Asperger’s syndrome who was serving an in-school suspension entered the room wearing camouflage clothes.
When she asked him to take a seat, he pulled a loaded 9mm handgun and pointed it at her.
She knew him well; he was the smartest student she’d ever taught. After he'd made an inappropriate remark in her class the previous day, the principal pulled him from her class for the remaining weeks of the year. But here he was -- back with a gun.
“ ‘Joe,’ I said, ‘you’re scaring me, I want to talk to you, but I can’t do that with the firearm.’ ” No response. She repeated herself several times. Eventually he gave her the gun. They walked together out of the room, down the hall and through a set of fire doors.
“He explained to me he was just upset, he wanted to still be in my classroom, he felt like he had ruined that opportunity,” she said. The student ended up in the juvenile justice system, and was released at 18 into an Easter Seals program.
Frank, on the other hand, became a cop.
“I will tell you he’s a good kid,” she said. “He’s a really good kid. He just got a little bit lost -- and I think that’s most of the people we deal with.”
(This is the second of three parts. Tomorrow: From Plymouth to Windsor to Norwich.)