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Retiring captain would do it all again

John HartCapt. Gary Jacobson talks on the phone to Undersheriff John Trauner.
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At 6 feet 6 inches and more than 300 pounds, Nevada County Sheriff’s Capt. Gary Jacobson can fill places – even hostile places, where he’s been known to disarm crowds by just standing there.

No takedown moves needed. No pepper spray. Just some gentle persuasion.

Like on calls to break up bar fights.



“He’d absolutely fill a doorway to where a little bit of light squeezed through behind him, and the bar would absolutely quiet down,” said Undersheriff John Trauner.

Jacobson works well with the agitated, Lt. David Baxley said. “He’d go overboard to calm them down.”




Now the 54-year-old Jacobson, known as Capt. Jake, will try a calmer lifestyle when he retires after 27 years with the Sheriff’s Office. Today is his last day on a job where co-workers say he’s been a steadying presence.

“I can go to him to get frank insight that I know comes from the heart and not just some technical manual,” said Trauner, who is a third cousin to Jacobson.

Jacobson has handled all aspects of Sheriff’s Office work. Ask which assignment he liked the best, and there’s no hesitation.

“As I tell people, I’m a frustrated street cop,” he said in an interview last week. “I enjoy working with the public.”

He’s quick to smile and crack a joke, and his booming laugh is hard to miss. His highlight the day of the interview was helping a woman who locked her keys in her car in the Rood Administrative Center parking lot.

“Fortunately, she had the window down that much, so I could get a coat hanger down there,” he said.

One assignment he loved was running the Truckee substation, where he was the town’s police chief until it formed its own police department.

Why the fondness for Truckee?

“Because it’s 54 miles away” from his bosses, he said, again grinning.

Jacobson is known as a practical joker, but lately he’s been a target.

His car was recently swathed in yellow caution tape. Co-workers also turned his desk 180 degrees, with desktop items still facing the same direction.

Matters were more serious a few months earlier. On June 4, not long after he quit smoking, Jacobson had a heart attack. He added regular exercise and healthier foods to his routine and returned to work in 20 days.

As with many cops, shots of adrenaline between long stretches of sedentary work have taken their toll.

“We hit fast-food joints too often because we’re usually on the run,” he said.

He’s just as candid when young people inquire about law enforcement work. Heart disease, alcoholism, divorce and suicide plague the profession more than other jobs, he tells them. He balances that with his own encouraging outlook.

“It’s a great profession to be in,” he said. “If I had to do it all over again, I’d do it exactly the same way.”

Jacobson has two adult daughters with his wife of 34 years, Gail. He said his retirement plans aren’t entirely set. An avid woodworker, he enjoys making wooden toys for children.

Whatever he does, Trauner said, “I suspect it will have something to do with people. No matter what, it will have to do with people.”


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