COVENTRY — Jadine Ferri loves her job with the Coventry Police Department for a number of reasons, not least for the opportunity it affords her to keep the town’s residents safe. Beyond that, though, Ferri enjoys finding creative ways to engage community members while working to reverse the negative stereotypes that tend to follow people in her field.
“We’re human,” said Ferri, an officer in the department. “We’re parents, we’re brothers, we’re sisters. And we’re not just here to ruin your day — we’re also here to make it better.”
Now in her 12th year working for the Coventry Police Department, Ferri will be presented with the Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association’s 2019 Community Policing Award during a ceremony today.
“I’m really, really, really grateful,” she said Monday of being selected as the award’s recipient.
When she was 16, Ferri had her identity stolen by someone who then used her name to commit a crime. And though that experience was a scary one, it’s what caused her to consider pursuing a career as a police officer.
“I was brought in and questioned and, as scary as it was, it was interesting to me,” she recalled. “I kind of latched onto it, and jumped in with two feet.”
By forging connections with residents, Ferri for years has striven to put her profession in a positive light.
In a post on the Coventry Police Department’s Facebook page, Col. John MacDonald, the department’s chief, praised Ferri for her leadership in various service projects and community outreach.
“Many of our officers do excellent community outreach, but Jadine’s efforts have been outstanding,” he wrote last week, adding that Ferri “has personally improved the public image of our department and helped the overall nationwide effort to humanize the badge.”
Partnering frequently with officer AJ Medeiros, who received the community policing award last year, Ferri has led a number of community outreach events around town.
In October, for example, Ferri and Medeiros went all out participating in the town’s Trunk-or-Treat event, passing out goodies to trick-or-treaters while dressed as Toy Story’s Jessie and Woody.
Ferri has also helped spearhead events like “Coffee with a Cop,” inviting residents to Bean Barn for coffee and conversation, “Fill The Cruiser,” collecting Christmas gifts for the Toys for Tots campaign, and the department’s “Adopt a Family” event to benefit the town’s ’Tis the Season program.
Of all those events, though, Ferri said she had the most fun working in 2018 with Medeiros and local firefighters to create Rhode Island’s first lip sync challenge video.
Still, it’s her work in the elementary schools that’s been particularly rewarding for Ferri.
Ferri tries to visit Coventry’s elementary schools at least once a week to chat with students, lead safety events and participate in various activities.
“I have fun every time I go into those schools and see those kids,” she said. “Just the way their faces light up — it really warms my heart.”
The school visits became more frequent following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012, Ferri said. During her initial visits, she said, students tended to reacted with comments about being arrested. As they’ve become familiar with her, however, students have grown more comfortable with Ferri and her colleagues.
That change, Ferri added, “is really wonderful.”
“We don’t want the kids to be afraid of us,” she said. “We want them to know that we’re here to help them.”
As for future community outreach, Ferri said she plans to continue organizing a variety of events around town for children and adults, alike.
“We always have something up our sleeves,” she said.
And though she wasn’t expecting to be awarded for her community policing efforts, Ferri called it “humbling” to receive the recognition.
“We don’t do this for rewards,” she added. “We do it for the people in our town.”