MARION — After nearly 23 years at the Marion Police Department, Officer Tom Daubs still can’t believe he’s getting paid to do something he loves so much.
“I’m having way too much fun to call this work,” Daubs said.
Growing up in Center Point, Daubs said he was fascinated with law enforcement from an early age. For a brief time when he was a kid, Daubs’ father was in law enforcement.
Daubs, now 47, also recalls watching law-and-order television shows like “CHiPs” on the California Highway Patrol, “T.J. Hooker,” a police drama, and Andy Griffith in “Matlock” as a country lawyer who always won his cases.
After graduating from Center Point-Urbana High School, Daubs was hired at the Marion Police Department in 1995. He worked the afternoon shift for three years before shifting to nights until 2002.
He then switched to the day shift and, That year, a few years later, one of the biggest opportunities of his career came up.
In 2006, the department was looking to replace one of its bicycle officers. Daubs said he initially wasn’t going to put in for the position until then Chief Harry Daugherty asked him if he was going to apply.
“It was the best second chance I ever got,” Daubs said. “That opened so many doors for me.”
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The department’s other bicycle officer was Jim Teahen, who also served as the department’s first school resource officer.
Daubs got to know Teahen and, when Teahen retired, he told Daubs apply for the job. Daubs became school resource officer in August 2012.
“My career has really taken off,” he said.
Daubs is assigned to the Linn-Mar and Marion Independent school districts, covering roughly 15 buildings and 7,800 students.
He helps with truancy and attendance issues, teaches DARE classes and gives talks on topics such as theft and bullying.
A lot of what he does, he said, is just interact with students.
When a student is struggling, Daubs said he will take time out of his day to have lunch with them, play basketball or give them a tour of the police department — anything to help get the student back on track.
“There’s not much I wouldn’t do to reward and reinforce positive behavior,” he said.
Daubs said he enjoys the freedom the school resource officer position affords him and the interactions he has with students. He’s also passionate about school safety.
“Safe schools are a very significant priority of mine,” he said. “Kids today deserve to feel safe in their educational environment.”
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When he’s not working, Daubs either runs in or volunteers for just about every race in Marion. He loves to travel, watch college football and spend time with his wife and two daughters.
Because of the increasing demands on Daubs’ time, the police department will add a second school resource officer and then Daubs will work only at Linn-Mar.
The Linn-Mar district this month is to present Daubs with the Linn-Mar Lion Pride award for his commitment to the district and its students.
Daubs is “never ‘off duty’ when it comes to Linn-Mar and our kids,” said Leisa Breitfelder, executive director of student services at Linn-Mar.
“I have had multiple conversations with him off hours when concerns for our students have occurred within the night,” she said. “When asked for assistance, he is right on board. He is building relationships with our students and lives the ‘us’ attitude.”
Daubs said he was humbled to learn he was receiving the award and likened it to winning the Heisman Trophy.
“To be honored with the Pride award just blew me away,” he said. “I’m having a blast doing this. I’m flattered. ... I enjoy doing this and plan on doing this for many years to come.”