You need a “people person” to help keep the law. You need someone with compassion and understanding. You need Officer Trena Yarber, a four year JPD veteran with a killer smile and a keen understanding of what it takes to make Fondren feel safe.
Walking a beat in the historic business district all week may not seem ideal for some, but for Officer Yarber, it’s great PR that she’s happy to be a part of. “I’m here to bridge the gap between the police department and the citizens,” she explained. “I’m here to be the face, to say to those who want to take from others, ‘You’re not doing this here.’” She sees a much greater purpose in her job. “I’m not confined to an office, pushing paper; I can push hope and knowledge to people to make them aware.”
Officer Yarber, 33, became a policewoman only after finding out she’d have to go through the academy anyway to become a probation officer. “I got on the force and realized I liked dealing with people,” she said. And she takes that role to heart, especially in her current assignment. “I say ‘Come here, let me show you another way.’ That’s what I want to bring back.”
Burglary suppression and business relations is her number one job and she takes every concern seriously. “It may not be (a big deal) to some, but if it is to you, it is to me,” she said. “I address every issue like it’s a big issue.” Officer Yarber is on foot primarily, but during the lunch rush, she rides. “Being in a car covers more ground.” And violators beware: “I’m here; I’ll wait you out. I’m not going anywhere.”
You may remember Officer Yarber had been on the business district beat from summer 2010 to summer 2011 but was pulled for lack of manpower. Now, she is only pulled if Precinct Four Commander McGowan has a special assignment for her. He said it was “like pulling teeth to get her back.” Nevertheless, there are no plans to cut the service anytime soon. And Officer Yarber is grateful. “I appreciate him and those who believe in me,” she said.
Business owners call Officer Yarber family. “I have developed personal relationships out here,” she said. “If they don’t see me, they call. And they ask about my family.” Recently, when Wells Cleaners matriarch Carol Moore passed away, Officer Yarber was affected. “It hurt me; we had developed a relationship.”
A part time college student, Officer Yarber is active in her church and is a mother of two. When she’s not on duty, she returns to the neighborhood where she works – family in tow – to enjoy the shops and the food. “I love the diverse stores,” she says. “I bring my kids to show them the art and hear the music. It’s like going outside of Jackson when you come to this area. It reminds me of like Paris. I love it.”
Officer Yarber said she feels the love from shop owners and citizens alike. “I’ve never seen a group of people who love on police officers the way the people in Fondren do,” she explains. “It IS a village. You support each other. I feel love; I feel appreciated. I am humbled to serve you all.”