On a brisk winter night, Eric Jackson and his partner sat in an unmarked patrol car and watched as four black males in their early 20s driving a stolen car wheeled past them, stopping to talk to two drug dealers Jackson and his partner had under surveillance. When they pulled off, the two officers hustled over to the dealers they were previously planning to arrest to ask their assistance in nabbing those driving the stolen car. They agreed, said Jackson, realizing that arresting those four would clear the area of undercover police for a while. Jackson, then a 22-year-old rookie for the Newark, New Jersey, police department, was a recent graduate with an accounting degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck, New Jersey. He confesses that crime fighting at times requires some negotiations off the books. “Sometimes you have to let certain things go to get to what you need,” says Jackson. “The degree of crime was much higher there than the guys who sell drugs. They’re always going to be there.”
Jackson’s youthful appearance made him the obvious front man as he stood with the conspirator waiting for the car to return. His partner, a slightly older black male, hid behind a big maple tree. When the car pulled over, Jackson approached the young men offering the passengers $200 for the wheels. From their response, however, Jackson knew they had identified him. Jackson, believing his cover was blown, hit the passenger in the seat closest to him in the mouth, reached in, and put the car in park.
His left-handed partner ambled over to the car with his gun drawn on the driver. “I had my hand on the gear shift so the driver couldn’t move.” But when the driver took his foot off the brakes, the car rolled forward-and so did Jackson, as his torso was bent forward inside the car. “[As it rolled,] the car hit my partner’s hand and I think he just out of reaction tried to shoot the driver or he just pulled the trigger and the gun went off.” The bullet went through Jackson’s left shoulder, two inches from his head, breaking his shoulder and his upper arm.
At the hospital he learned that he suffered 45% nerve damage in his arm and shoulder. “I knew he didn’t shoot me because he wanted to,” Jackson says of his partner’s actions that night. But more than that, Jackson hasn’t let those obstacles hinder his aspirations in his line of work.
According to Paul G. Stoltz, Ph.D., Jackson has exhibited a high AQ or Adversity Quotient. Author of the book Adversity Quotient @ Work (William Morrow; $26), Stoltz describes AQ as “your hardwired pattern of response to all forms and magnitudes of adversity, from major tragedies to minor annoyances. It is how you respond to adversity in the deepest and most automatic recesses of your brain and every cell in your body.
“The challenge of today’s economy is to expand human capacity,” he continues. “Like computers, the demands placed upon