SALEM, N.H. — As a 9-year old seeing his father come home in a police uniform for the first time is an experience Jacob Genest, 22, won’t ever forget.
“It was nuts,” Jacob said with a laugh.
“Their jaws dropped,” Sgt. Robert Genest recalled when he walked into his home to greet his family wearing a uniform. It was his first police job as a part-time police officer in Fremont.
Now 13 years later, the father-son duo are both police officers for their hometown department in Salem. Jacob joined the department shortly after graduating from Rivier University in Nashua this May.
“I grew up watching him work construction and other odd jobs, and I always knew he wanted more,” Jacob said. “I saw what this job did for his life, and our family’s life. Seeing my father grow that way, I felt like this was a good career and I could follow in it.”
As for working for his father, “He’s been my boss my whole life, and he’s my boss now,” Jacob said.
Robert became interested in a career as a police officer when he was working at a local store, and police officers often came in. After talking with them, and making relationships he decided that he wanted to pursue law enforcement as a career.
He enrolled in college, where he met his wife Amy, and shortly after they had their first son Jacob. Three years later they had their second son Ben, 19. Robert worked mostly in construction while his sons were young.
He finished up the training to become an officer and got his first job as a part-time officer in Fremont. Then in 2006 he got his dream job: a position as a full-time officer for Salem.
“Salem was the town I wanted to work in since I was a kid, it’s my hometown,” Robert said. “I like the direct work with people, I'm someone who needs to work with people, and helping people everyday and meeting new people is great.”
While working in Salem he got to spend time with his children. Jacob was in middle school when Robert served as a school resource officer in the district.
“Seeing him everyday when I was in middle school really helped us develop this relationship,” Jacob said. He said they have a “good and close” relationship, and he thinks of his father as a friend.
There were some strenuous times around high school. Robert was strict with his kids about following the laws, especially when it pertained to phone use while driving, he said.
“I didn’t want us to look like hypocrites,” Robert said.
Now that Jacob is 22, “We are good to go,” he said joking. Robert, with a sigh of relief and a chuckle, agreed.
Now that his son is working in the same department with officers who saw him grow up, he knows Jacob will be taken care of by the guys in the department, Robert said.
“It’s funny to watch because it’s Jake, the new guy, but also the Jake they’ve seen grow up,” Robert said.
They ride to work most days together, even though they don’t see each other during the day for the most part. Other officers are training Jacob, who is happy to be part of the team.
Since joining the department, Jacob has seen the men he grew up watching lead with character, he said.
Within the past year, multiple high-ranking officials, including the previous chief and previous deputy chief, were told they were being investigated by the New Hampshire Attorney General’s office. Both the chief and deputy chief are now retired.
Currently the department is being lead by recently appointed Deputy Chief Joel Dolan and Administrative Police Chief Brian Pattullo.
“We’re definitely moving forward,” Robert said. “And I know he’s surrounded by good guys.”