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thedrifter
04-24-06, 07:35 AM
Police officer earns respect as people person
Portland - Dominick Jacobellis retires after 28 years with the bureau
Monday, April 24, 2006
MAXINE BERNSTEIN

At 21, Dominick "Jake" Jacobellis, a young man from the Bronx fresh out of the Marines, set out on a road trip across the country. He dreamed of making $1 million working on the Alaskan pipeline.

But, as luck would have it, he ran out of money shortly after arriving in Portland.

Jacobellis fell in love with the city and applied to be a cop, following in the footsteps of his dad, a 31-year NYPD veteran.

As Jacobellis received his retirement badge Friday after 28 years with the bureau, Portland police brass, street officers and even crooks described the lieutenant as a "legend."

They say he approached every assignment with enthusiasm and remarkable dedication to the job. His ability to treat people from all walks of life with respect and dignity was a shining example to other officers. Crooks even affectionately called him "Curly." They say his natural ability to lead and mentor younger officers will be missed.

"Although his charisma and infectious smile cannot be taught or replicated, the way he treats people should provide lessons to all of us on the way it should be done, " said Central Precinct Cmdr. Dave Benson.

Benson also awarded Jacobellis the bureau's Distinguished Service Medal on Friday for his service to nearly every bureau division, his service to the public and his advancement of the bureau's goals as an officer, investigator and supervisor.

Officers said he made the job fun and taught them lessons they will hold dear for life.

Sgt. Wayne Svilar said he was eager to chase bad guys and make arrests when he became Jacobellis' partner on the Northeast afternoon patrol shift.

"Little did I know, he was going to take a lot of time talking to victims," Svilar said. "Then he was taking a lot of time talking to witnesses, and even suspects, making sure they were OK.

Svilar said he was impatient, wanting to cuff the next crook.

"Little did I know that what he was teaching me was police work," he said. "The love, compassion and respect he has for this job -- all of you have no idea."

Sgt. Kelly Krohn said Jacobellis' greatest trait was encouraging others to do their best. "He makes everybody around him better," Krohn said.

Retired Officer Betty Wooten returned to express her appreciation for what Jacobellis taught her as a young officer. Wooten thanked him for accepting female officers as partners, which she called a rarity in the early days.

"He loved the hunt, and he taught me that," she said. "He'd say, 'Criminals are not very smart, but they're creatures of habit.' He'd say, 'Go to their momma's house, or their girlfriend's house . . . all three girlfriends' houses, and they'll eventually show up.' "

Officer Mike Stradley said he tries to share with trainees the spark Jacobellis brought to the job and his passion for helping others.

"I'm trying to teach what Jake taught me," he said. "It's not that his legacy ends here, because it doesn't."

Jacobellis, who turned 50 in December, credited his high school sweetheart and wife, Michelle, and their two children, Dominick and Margaret, for motivating him to do his best.

"They made me a better man. They made me a better police officer," he said. Whether it was chasing robbers or nabbing drug dealers, Jacobellis said he'd always imagine his children looking over his shoulder and hope they'd say, "That was the right thing to do, Dad."

Maxine Bernstein: 503-221-8212; maxinebernstein@news.oregonian.com

Ellie