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50 Badges: Bowling Green Officer Jason Franks – Kentucky

Personal challenges, tragedy help guide Kentucky officer’s approach

By Dan Campana

Helpless and angry, Bowling Green Police Officer Jason Franks faced a crossroads a few years ago as personal challenges and tragedy bombarded him.

His wife, Casey, was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer and faced chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation to battle the disease. One of Franks’ grandfathers and a cousin, with whom he was close, passed away. Then, a house fire killed Franks’ brother and his family, including a young niece and nephew.

“Rather than give up, I took the advice of my wife who continued to remind me that everything we were feeling was exactly what those people on the other end of a 911 call were feeling,” Franks explained. “She reminded me to use our experiences as moments of understanding when dealing with the public. Too many times, we, as officers, are quick to forget that the only difference between ourselves and those who call for our help are past decisions and circumstances.

“I am motivated to be my very best, to be knowledgeable and respectful so as to provide calm and understanding to those in the midst of their own trying times,” he added.

Franks’ background includes several years in the Army as a military police officer before beginning his law enforcement career in Bowling Green 10 years ago.

“After serving my country in Germany … I felt compelled to serve at the local level as a police officer. In my heart, I just wanted to help those in need and try to make a positive difference,” Franks said.

His commitment to the community has undoubtedly taken on many forms, so much so that he was named Bowling Green’s Officer of the Year for 2017 – an award selected by his peers. A member of the award committee described the positive impression Franks leaves on those he meets, to the point that several people told an investigator they would be willing to talk with – and even surrender to – Franks because of his caring and genuine approach, according to a published report.

Franks described the honor as “very humbling and profoundly motivating,” and believes others in the department were more deserving.

“This motivates me to work even harder to earn the right, in my own mind, to be worthy of the title,” said Franks, who also received a Character Counts award.

A decade into his career, Franks understands how he has changed and how to help newer officers navigate everything that comes with being on the job. It begins by prioritizing “faith, family and then the job,” as well as finding hobbies outside of work that create healthy outlets to alleviate job stress.

Most importantly, he believes officers should lead by example for the public and among their peers. Personally, he’s learned a lot about himself in trying to do his best for those around him.

“Ten years ago when I started on this journey, I saw everything in black and white. I walked with my chest out, that shiny new badge on my chest, with pride and more than a little overconfidence,” Franks shared. “Now, the weight of the enormous responsibility has set in.

“Wearing the badge is not about me being the police, some special guy who’s somehow important and in charge … (it’s) about carrying the responsibility of my community’s safety and trust above my heart every day,” Franks added.

Read the entire 50 Badges series here.