The Charger Blog

Soon-to-Be Graduate, First-Year Daughter Share Passion for Criminal Justice

Karl Jacobson ’22 M.S. will soon graduate with his master’s degree in criminal justice. The New Haven Police Department assistant chief has shared his passion for the field with his fellow officers and with one of his fellow Chargers – his daughter Kelli Jacobson ’25, who is following in her father’s footsteps.

December 9, 2021

By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications

Image of Karl and Kelli Jacobson
Karl Jacobson ’22 M.S. and Kelli Jacobson ’25 both studied criminal justice at the University this semester.

Karl Jacobson ’22 M.S. has been working in law enforcement for the past 25 years. An assistant chief for the New Haven Police Department, he says his time as a candidate in the University’s graduate program in criminal justice has enabled him to look at the field with a new lens and to further incorporate diversity into his work.

Jacobson, who completes his master’s degree this month, says the exchange of ideas in his classes and the interactions he has had with his classmates have been invaluable.

“I believe the information from the other students was helpful, and I feel the information I gave them about policing was helpful,” he said. “I was even in online courses with some of my officers and interim New Haven Police chief Renee Dominguez ’20 M.S. This brought fruitful discussions of our coursework to our work outside the classroom.”

‘The perfect course for a newer assistant chief’

Jacobson says his relationships with his professors were especially beneficial. He cites Lorenzo Boyd, Ph.D., Stewart Professor in Criminal Justice and Community Policing, and John DeCarlo, Ph.D., a professor and former police chief – both recognized experts in policing – as having been particularly impactful. He says his “Policing Fragile Communities” course, taught by Dr. Boyd, helped him get through a particularly challenging time for law enforcement officers.

“I was in this class during the protests related to the murder of George Floyd,” he explains. “This was a tough time in policing, but this was the perfect course for a newer assistant chief attempting to navigate the challenges facing the community and police officers during this time in our country.

Image of Karl and Kelli Jacobson
Karl Jacobson ’22 M.S. and Kelli Jacobson ’25.

“I remember one week we had protests in front of the police station that drew thousands of people,” he continued. “I was able to suggest tactics to peacefully get through the protests, and that week, I was writing a paper for Dr. Boyd on the Black Lives Matter organization. I believe all officers should go through this course with Dr. Boyd.”

‘I am very inspired by my dad’

Jacobson’s passion for law enforcement and service has already inspired one of his fellow Chargers – his daughter Kelli Jacobson ’25, a criminal justice major. Her dad has worked in the field for her entire life, and she too hopes to dedicate her career to helping people. Her goal is to become a park ranger, since she wants to combine her passions for criminal justice and environmental science, helping people and the environment.

“The stories he has always told at the dinner table definitely influenced my decision to be a criminal justice major,” she said. “My dad would always tell me all different kinds of stories, whether an action packed one with a car chase or how he helped someone that day. Over time, these stories had a major impact on me, and I knew I wanted to do something along the lines of what my father does. I am very inspired by my dad who has made such a big impact in many people’s lives throughout his time in law enforcement.”

‘Anything is possible’

A member of the Chargers field hockey team, Kelli has already demonstrated a commitment to excellence – and good-natured competition – on the field and in the classroom.

“It has been great earning a degree while my dad is too,” she said. “We are definitely able to bond over it, and, sometimes, we even get competitive about who has the better grades.”

Karl is excited to continue to share his passion for the field, as well as what he has learned during his 25-year career and at the University, with his daughter, as well as his fellow police officers. He hopes to inspire them to keep learning as they serve their communities.

“I am extremely proud of my daughter, who is a hard worker and a dedicated person,” said Karl, who aspires to become a chief of police. “I hope I have inspired her to always pursue her goals and dreams and that anything is possible. We cannot just acquire knowledge from school or real life, we must pass this on to make us better officers and people.”