A “Code Red” Sprint For A Runner-Turned-Cop

Thomas MacMillan PhotoWhen she was on the Hillhouse high school track team in the ‘80s, Officer Nancy Jordan set a new record for the 200 meter sprint. One tense morning decades later, she found herself running for her school once more, sprinting to keep it safe from an alleged man with a gun.

Officer Jordan (pictured with Principal Kermit Carolina), a 14-year veteran of the New Haven police department, wasn’t running on a track on Dec. 19. She’d just heard word of a gun threat, and was rushing down a hall inside Hillhouse high, moving to shut the school down to protect the students and faculty.

Although the gun threat turned out to be a false alarm, Jordan’s quick work helped coordinate school staff and New Haven police to respond to the alert. On Monday afternoon, Jordan was recognized for her hustle that day.

Officer Jordan is a school resource officer assigned to Hillhouse High, along with Officer James Baker (pictured), who had been out on vacation during the Dec. 19 gun threat. Both officers were among cops recently recognized by a Dixwell church. During Christmastime, Jordan helped organize donations to the family of shooting victims.

At a Monday afternoon faculty meeting, both officers received official citations from Hillhouse Principal Carolina, for the gun threat response and also for their work throughout the year.

Carolina said Jordan’s presence in the building on Dec. 19 was soothing to staff and faculty. Her relationships with students and her familiarity with the school paid off that day, by allowing her to coordinate logistics and make people feel secure, he said.

Carolina (pictured) said school security also did a great job that day, and will be recognized at an upcoming award ceremony.

When faced with danger, cops “can’t run from it,” said police Chief Dean Esserman. “They have to run to it.” He said Jordan and Baker make the department proud.

“It’s humbling experience,” Jordan said, after accepting a ceremonial plaque. “I feel very blessed.”

Jordan, who’s 44, said she grew up with Carolina, and graduated from Hillhouse in 1987. She returned to the school in March, as a school resource officer.

She recalled the events of Dec. 19:

“I was sitting in my office,” she said. “And they were calling me on the radio and my cell phone was ringing.” Her sergeant was calling her, just as a police dispatcher was radioing her.

“You just got a threat,” a dispatcher told her. Someone may be coming to “shoot up” the school.

Jordan immediately pulled out her other radio, the “house radio,” that she uses to communicate with school staff. And she started running down the hall. In the lobby, she found Dr. Leroy Williams, a vice-principal.

“Doc, we have to lock the school down!” she said.

“I’m talking real fast,” she recalled. She was trying to express the gravity of the situation, and quickly.

Williams said he would call a meeting of administrators and they would start locking down.

“No, they say he’s coming now!” Jordan said. “Code Red!”

Williams got it. He got on the school intercom and announced Code Red—lockdown. Everyone was to remain in their classrooms.

Using her police and “house” radios, Jordan made sure all the entrances were covered by cops and school security. “I need somebody at every door,” she said.

Jordan took a couple of laps around the building, making sure everyone was sheltering in place. She came upon a teacher who was trying to sneak out of her classroom to go to the bathroom. Jordan told her to get back in the classroom. “I’m sorry, but just for your safety.”

Eventually, it became clear that the school was not in danger. The lockdown lifted.

“Everything happened so fast,” Jordan said. “I didn’t think about it until it was over.”

It wasn’t until later, when she was talking about the experience with her husband, that Jordan found herself getting choked up.

“This is a situation that could have gone bad,” she said. “It got really emotional for me.”

In the moment, when the calls came in, she simply reacted. “I don’t even think about the danger.” Later, she realized all that could have happened, and reflected on the situation not just as a cop doing her job, but as a wife, sister, mother, niece, daughter—and a Hillhouse alum.

“This is like home,” she said, standing in the corridor of her alma mater.

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posted by: JustAnotherTaxPayer on January 14, 2014  4:05pm

Looks like the Kermit Karolina show. And the issuance of awards, that are created by Kermit Karolina, to recognize officers who did their job, is nice, but to put it in perspective, someone in the Independent may want to poll all of the officers they have highlighted with articles, where they risk their lives, tracking down individuals on the street carrying handguns “locked and cocked” and ready to go. Ask them if their own department has recognized them with any type of award, for risking their lives, seizing guns of people, risking their lives, and protecting the public.

It will be embaressing when it is discovered that their is no parity. Some will be recognized, others ingored, and a true examination will reveal that the only ones recognized, are people the administration finds agreeable to their own forms of bias.

So Kermit creates an award, chooses someone he wants to promote to the public, calls the press, and another “dog and pony show” is conducted. This is insulting to all the cops who go out into the neighborhoods every day, bring in guns every week, and who actually go above and beyond. Yes those officers “go forward”, and exist most of their waking hours out on the streets where the focus of all this violence occurs.

posted by: cedarhillresident! on January 14, 2014  4:09pm

:) I love story’s like this.

posted by: SMH on January 14, 2014  6:32pm

Congrats to Officer Jordan, Officer Baker and the entire NHPD for a wonderful job during the Code Red.

The disturbing part to this story is that the School Security Officers did receive an award for the role that they played during the incident at Hillhouse. The Security staff locked the exterior doors, cleared the halls and maintained clear hallways during the entire lockdown, I guess they were not worthy of even a compliment because they mean very little. After all every article on school safety excludes the people who deal with the students everyday.

posted by: NewHaven06513 on January 14, 2014  8:19pm

Jordan is a truly dedicated officer and role model for our kids! She is always approachable and kind hearted. Her award is well deserved and we are fortunate to have here and officers like her in our City!

posted by: gioex0323 on January 15, 2014  7:54am

As a police officer do I think that an “award” is warranted in this situation…..Honestly it doesn’t really matter what I think.  I’m sure that Officer Jordan did her job on that day.  No disrespect, but she deserves an award for dealing with some of the kids that go to that school as is.

Like another commenter posted the school security stall are the ones whom are always overlooked.  I have had the pleasure to deal with most of the security staff on a personal level, and yes there are some who should not be there, like any other profession, but I ca tell you that it is the security staff who would be the true hero’s because long before that cavalry arrives to deal with the gunman/shooter it the security officers that will be making sure “OUR” children get to a safe place or direct them to safety, and they do this with very little leadership, limited training and no protective equipment. 

So I truly thank the School Security Officers for the job they do.

posted by: obi on January 15, 2014  8:53am

@JustAnotherTaxPayer, I wonder if your, “dog and pony show”  would be different if Officer Nancy Jordan ethnicity was different?  You sound like the DC and Tea Party obstructionists.

posted by: obi on January 15, 2014  9:04am

@JustAnotherTaxPayer BTW Mr. Carolina did what Esserman FAILED to do. WHY? the make up at Hillhouse is different than Yale University who also went in lock down.  They ALSO had far MORE police presence as well, IE Yale and had less students due to vacation time.  So you need to ST_U.