People of the U: Da’Varius Jackson
Published on Friday, February 18, 2022
By: Ruth Cummins, email@example.com
Photos By: Melanie Thortis/ UMMC Communications
Editor's Note: In honor of Black History Month’s 2022 theme, Black Health and Wellness, we want to celebrate the contributions, breakthroughs and cultural richness of Black professionals and students at UMMC. See more People of the U features.
You could say Captain Da’Varius Jackson really gets around – the University of Mississippi Medical Center campus, that is.
As the captain of the patrol division for the UMMC Police and Public Safety Department, Jackson sets into motion protocols and people so that students, employees and visitors can be safe and kept from harm’s way. It’s a job with a lot of moving parts that Jackson, a veteran law enforcement officer, does with respect to the Medical Center’s core values.
“I coordinate with Captain (Lucian) Price who is over investigations, Captain (Nicholas) Kehoe over administration, and Julie Kelley, the director of public safety who oversees communications,” said Jackson, who joined the UMMC force eight years ago as a patrol officer.
“Patrol” entails “officers checking the lots and garages to make sure no vehicles have been burglarized and to prevent burglaries,” Jackson said. “Officers are assigned to the Emergency Department to assist staff as needed, and to check for contraband and weapons in people’s bags. We have officers at the front of the hospital that give direction and guidance, and that assist staff with any issues that come up.”
His patrol also monitors the Pediatric Emergency Department, the front of Wiser Hospital and Sanderson Tower, and other academic and clinical buildings on campus. “We have an officer assigned to the stadium parking lot to patrol it and prevent vehicle break-ins, and to make sure staff and students feel safe as they walk to and from their cars.”
Campus Police is about 110 members strong, including dispatch, patrol, command staff and security officers, Jackson said. “Every day, I check in with our sergeants to see if they need anything and to provide guidance and leadership,” he said. “I also assist with covert operations.”
The best part of the job, Jackson said, “is providing protection, serving the people, and being that smiling face if someone is having a bad day.”
When you ask Campus Police Chief Mary Paradis to describe Jackson, her first words are: Where do I begin?
“He is the most empathetic of all my captains. He has a smile on his face every day,” said Paradis, who became the Medical Center’s first woman police chief in summer 2021.
“He’s the supervisor who asks questions to ensure he understands his marching orders before delivering them to the troops,” Paradis said. “When you describe a co-worker who truly cares about his family and his employees, that is Captain Jackson.”
That smiling face, however, doesn’t tolerate crime from the city spilling over onto the UMMC campus. “We hold people accountable,” he said. “If you come here and commit a crime, we hold you accountable. If you come on our grounds, we will hold you to a standard.”
That includes arresting suspects, writing citations, investigating crimes by virtue of a full investigative division, and more, Jackson said.
A technical sergeant with the 172nd Airlift Wing of the Mississippi Air National Guard, Jackson and wife Katara have five children ranging in age from 2 to 15. The family resides in Ridgeland, although Jackson grew up in nearby Canton.
In their spare time, Jackson and his family “like to sit around and listen to music, play cards and watch movies or a TV series,” he said.
Jackson, Paradis says, is “a wonderful human being.
“Da’Varius Jackson is a member of my command staff that I can ask to represent my office to any member of the UMMC community. I never worry that he would not be an ‘olive branch’ of UMMC’s core values,” she said.
“We are fortunate to have him leading our patrol division.”