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Retired Rockford Police Detective becomes a school teacher

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From patrol officer to bomb squad, Jeff Barabasz is now working as a school teacher.

Retired Police Detective Jeff Barabasz has taken his law enforcement career in a totally different direction. He is now a criminal justice teacher at the Rockford Public Schools. 

“It was time,” Barabasz said. “I mean like I said I was an officer for quite awhile and it’s time for a change.”

After 24 years of serving the citizens of Rockford, he’s gone from the Police Department to the Health and Public Service Department, also known as HPS at RPS. 

“About 15 years ago, I was a school officer in the building here,” Barabasz said. “We had a school liaison officer. I was actually the school officer for about six years. Back at the time I had thought about going back to school to be a teacher. It was something that I thought of back in college. Just really didn’t feel like going back to college again, so when this opportunity came around last year, I jumped on it and decided let’s try it and let’s see if I can do it.” 

Now, don’t let his departure from the force fool you into thinking that Barabasz is not flexing his years of knowledge.

“We’re really fortunate to have Detective Barabasz leading our criminal justice program here,” said Christina Magee, Academy Coach at Guilford High School. “You can’t get more authentic than a detective.”

“One of the good things that I believe that I bring to the school district is I have the experience,” Barabasz said.

“He’s brought in lots of guest speakers and taken students out to the police station and so having that real authentic person to not just share his stories, but to use his network to bring other experiences into our students has been invaluable,” Magee said. 

“It’s been great for me as a student, learning a lot of new things,” said Jack Ivanic, a student. “Last year I took a criminal justice class, so this is like the step above that. He has a lot of great experience in the work, so he really knows what he is talking about and it’s been great.”

Barabasz prides himself on his teaching style, which is combining what’s taught in the book and bringing it to life.

“I keep it real,” Barabasz said. “I mean that’s the main thing is I try to keep it real. It’s a fun class! It’s not just, you know, read the book, read the chapter, ok take a test. I mean I try and get interactive with them.”

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