Your dreams. Our mission.
Jean G. Jean-Louis
“I knew I was going to get out of my experience at MassBay what I put
into it. My education, getting involved in the school, it
ultimately helped prepare me for my career. At MassBay you get help to
push forward, and continue to the next step. It was a priceless
experience for me.”
Interest: Criminal Justice, Class of 2007
On Thursday April 18th, 2013 the City of Boston was still reeling from the aftereffects of the destruction of the Boston Marathon bombings that took place three days earlier. The suspects were still at-large, and an entire region was uneasy.
Boston Police Officer Jean G. Jean-Louis was at work when he heard a broadcast over his radio that MIT Police Office Sean Collier had been shot while sitting in his marked cruiser in Cambridge. A few moments later, Officer Jean-Louis heard a report stating that a carjacking victim had survived the ordeal and alerted police that the two carjackers identified themselves as the Marathon bombers. Officer Jean-Louis and his partners received a description of the two vehicles the suspects were driving and sped off to Cambridge.
Officer Jean-Louis and his partners were four of the 17 Boston Police Officers among many who responded to the report. Upon locating the vehicles, they gave chase. The suspects then began throwing explosives at the pursuing police cars, including a large exploding pressure cooker bomb that was detonated. Despite the level of firepower, Officer Jean-Louis and his fellow officers continued their chase. Eventually, the two vehicles were stopped and one of the suspects was killed. The other suspect fled, ultimately captured in a boat on the lawn of a home in a Watertown neighborhood. For their courage under fire, Officer Jean-Louis and the other 16 responding officers were given the Boston Police Department’s 2013 Medal of Honor and the highest honor an officer can receive: the Schroeder Brothers Medal. “I am very honored to have been in a position to execute my duties during such a difficult time,” says Officer Jean-Louis.
“I always fall back on my training when I perform my duties,” continues Officer Jean-Louis. “Police work is like a play with no rehearsal. You do what you’re trained to do, and you are held accountable for every decision you make.”
Jean Jean-Louis grew up in the Dorchester, Hyde Park, East Boston and Mattapan neighborhoods of Boston. The son of Haitian immigrants, he graduated Brighton High School wanting to become a police officer or a lawyer. But, he says, “I didn’t have the luxury of having my parents being able to afford a four-year university, and I wasn’t in a position to take loans.” He had been an entry-level cook at an assisted living facility in Norwood since the age of 15, and kept the job when he decided to enroll at MassBay.
He worked from 7:00 am – 7:00 pm on most Saturdays and Sundays, went to school during the weekdays, and then took the 1:00 pm – 7:00 pm shift in Norwood during the week. “I wasn’t making much, but the educational component of my life was very important to me. I needed that job to pay for school,” he says.
After his first couple of semesters at MassBay in the fall of 2005, he was planning to transfer to a four-year university, but his father convinced him to stay at MassBay to finish his associate degree. “It was good advice,” says Officer Jean-Louis. “I was able to take advantage of the joint admissions program, MassTransfer, and get a discount at my next school – UMass-Boston.”
While on the MassBay campus, Officer Jean-Louis soaked in all the education and advice he could. He says he was the first in his family to choose law enforcement as a career, and it can be hard to figure out how to become a police officer. But MassBay Professor of Criminal Justice, Marc Stanton, helped mentor him, encouraging him to take every civil service exam available.
As a result of Professor Stanton’s advice, Officer Jean-Louis took the exam for the Boston Police Cadet Academy, and in January 2007 was accepted. “It is a six-week academy for individuals who want a shot to become a police officer. Trainees who are interested in law enforcement as a career, go through the academy and get a clerical position within the Department,” he explains. For the next 17 months he served as a Boston Police Cadet – waiting for his opportunity to become a police officer.
Meanwhile, he completed his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice at MassBay as a Dean’s List student, and inspired by a Professor of U.S. History, Ed McCourt, he held elected positions as a Student Trustee and as a member of the Student Government Association.
“I knew I was going to get out of my experience at MassBay what I put into it,” he says. “My education, getting involved in the school, it ultimately helped prepare me for my career. At MassBay you get help to push forward, and continue to the next step. It was a priceless experience for me.”
Officer Jean-Louis transferred his MassBay credits to UMass-Boston, earning his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, magna cum laude, in 2011.
One of seven children, Officer Jean-Louis was the first in his family to obtain his bachelor’s degree. “It meant a lot to me, and also to my father who was an educator in Haiti before coming to America.”
While he was a student at UMass-Boston, his opportunity with the Boston Police Department finally came.
Officer Jean-Louis joined the Boston Police Academy on May 27, 2008. He describes the experience as being put into situations that are as real as a simulation can be. The training included running 5 -6 miles a day and a 12-mile graduation run; instruction in constitutional law, domestic violence law, patrol procedures, and much more; and realistic scenarios during which trainees are evaluated. “Police officers have a lot of power, and the Department is trying to be sure that they are giving that power to people who will use it properly and protect the safety and property of the citizens we’re sworn to serve,” says Officer Jean-Louis. “They’ll put you through a rigorous recruit investigation process, but ultimately it is your character that matters the most.”
Upon being sworn in as a Boston Police Officer in November 2008, Officer Jean-Louis was assigned to the District B-3 Mattapan-Dorchester Station, where he served for three years. He then earned his current assignment to the Youth Violence Strike Force (Gang Unit) in February 2012. “We are tasked with disrupting possible gang activity and to ensure individuals who engage in violent crime are held accountable,” he says. “Our operations are geared toward preventing criminal behavior and protecting innocent civilians from their effects.”
“I grew up in the city, and I understand these groups of individuals can impact residents,” he says. “The individuals who constantly engage in criminal activities are not your average citizens. They are known to police. My training enables me to detect behaviors of armed individuals. It is my responsibility to determine individuals who are armed, and who are just trying to live their lives in these great neighborhoods, and then engage each based on the community policing goals of the Boston Police Department.”
Officer Jean-Louis is continuing his education, pursuing his Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice Leadership at Northeastern University. He also takes time out to come back to MassBay and speak to currently enrolled students about his career journey.
“I don’t know how I would’ve been able to accomplish my career goals if it hadn’t been for MassBay and the professors here,” he says. “If I can help shed some light for a student so they can find their own journey, then I’m happy to do it.”
Jean G. Jean-Louis earned his Associate Degree in Criminal Justice
from MassBay in December 2007. He transferred his credits to
UMass-Boston, where he earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice.
A Boston Police Officer, he earned the 2013 Medal of Honor and a
Schroeder Brothers Medal for his actions on April 18th in pursuit of the
two Boston Marathon bombers.J