The Thin Line Spotlight: Resource Officer Jason Shonkwiler
Photographer / Whitney Williams
Known as “Shonk” or “Stash,” Jason Shonkwiler recently completed his first year as one of two school resource officers at Noblesville High School. His job entails being an informal counselor and educator but foremost a law enforcement officer. As a member of the Noblesville Police Department and a military veteran, he takes his assignment seriously but sincerely enjoys the interactions he has with students.
“It’s fun that the kids know me and recognize me when they see me out in the community,” Shonkwiler says. “It’s partly due to my mustache which I grew as a joke. I take my job seriously but not myself. When I first started as a police officer, I was dealing with a suicidal woman in her 80s. She told me I didn’t look old enough for the job. So, I grew a mustache. When the lady saw me later, she said I looked like the guy in the show Magnum, P.I. I decided to keep it.”
Shonkwiler grew up in Noblesville until his family moved to Wisconsin just as he was beginning high school. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he played football and ran track. In 2003, he enlisted in the army and saw combat in Iraq. While he was there, his mother, Peggy, reached out to family and friends and asked them to send him letters. One such person, Deb Epperson, ended up being his future mother-in-law.
“I actually grew up just down the street from the Epperson family,” he says. “Deb had her third-grade class at Forest Hill Elementary write to me and in the process, I reconnected with her daughter, Alaina. Today we are married, live in Noblesville and have two kids. One is in middle school and one is in elementary.”
After getting out of the army, Shonkwiler worked in a series of management jobs for companies such as Amazon and Target. However, the career path ahead of him didn’t seem interesting. He decided to pursue a long-time desire to be a police officer and, in 2014, graduated from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield.
Shonkwiler is an employee of the Noblesville City Police Department. He became a school resource officer at the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, joining Matt Johnston who has been in the position for several years. The 40-hour a week duty was cut short before the school year ended, due to the COVID-19 mandated school closings. Since then, Shonkwiler has returned to his prior duties and is back to law enforcement within the community. He looks forward to returning to school when it is deemed safe for students to resume in-person instruction.
“There is an understood line between teachers and the kids,” Shonkwiler says. “I take my job seriously, but I can take a joke. But when I’m serious, the kids know it. I am here to talk with them and be a mentor.
“I always wondered why school administration does what it does and why it makes certain decisions. Now I see how hard administrators work and how much they care about each kid. I only hope it is that way everywhere because that’s how it is in Noblesville,” he adds.
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