‘He’s throughout this department:’ MBPD reflects one year after death of Pfc. Jacob Hancher

Published: Oct. 3, 2021 at 7:38 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - One year ago, the Myrtle Beach Police Department lost Officer Jacob Hancher.

Hancher, described as a young man with a servant’s heart, responded to a domestic dispute late on the evening of Oct. 3, 2020.

It was there that he was met with gunfire initiated by a suspect.

Hancher died at the scene, while another officer was injured as well. The suspect died from gunfire returned by other responding MBPD officers.

Following that loss, the community began the process of surrounding Hancher’s blood relatives and work family with support.

A year later, Hancher’s legacy continues to be remembered by his fellow law enforcement brothers and sisters.

They lovingly referred to Hancher is as “Jacob”, a 23-year-old who always dreamed of becoming a law enforcement officer.

Colleagues said he had a warm smile and inviting personality, and first served the department as a community service officer for several years before officially joining the force. His life was cut short before he could complete one year as a police officer.

“Jacob did it with a smile,” MBPD Chief Amy Prock said. “He was intentional about what and how he met people - whether it was helping people or just shooting the breeze with somebody in a convenience store when he picked up a drink. That’s how he was, and that’s how it is, and he is continued to be remembered that way.”

It was the first loss of an officer in the line of duty during Prock’s time at the department’s helm.

“You’ll never be the same. But it’s important, as a team, as a leader - that we’ve got to grow,” she said.

Prock said the department has been remembering Jacob in this past year by honoring how he carried out his role.

“He gave 110%, and that’s what a leader wants from every person that he or she hires,” Prock said. “Jacob was willing to do that.”

Officer Haley Battles, another young officer with the department, became friends with Jacob during their time at the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy.

She said, for her, serving as a law enforcement officer is “the calling on your life.”

“With things like this that are absolutely heartbreaking, and a year later, you are still just as hurt as you were the first time it came around, it’s just kind of a reminder that you’re still human too,” Battles said.

But the pain, she said, is something that can be used to help the community.

“When you put on that uniform, you decide to show up,” Battles said. “And then you can connect with (others). Because you know that loss, and you know that pain. And you can use that to really reach people who are hard to reach at times.”

Fellow Officer Cody Kolb, who worked alongside Jacob on the waterfront portion of Myrtle Beach, said he told himself a year ago that he wanted to be more like Jacob. He feels he’s done that.

“He really went above and beyond to deal with people as people,” Kolb said. “It’s easy to come to work and do your job, and be successful at your job, without necessarily being extremely empathetic and going the extra mile, and that’s something he always did.”

Kolb said the tragedy of Jacob’s death is something they know they can’t change. So instead, they move forward, honoring him.

His team, like Battles and Kolb, wear bracelets bearing Jacob’s name and the date of his death.

“The biggest thing is keeping his memory alive, talking about him,” Kolb said. “To keep moving forward.”

“It’s always going to be with us; it’s just how we choose to carry it day by day,” Battles agreed.

Jacob has left a lasting impression on those he interacted with, even down to small acts of kindness that make an enduring impact.

Battles said Jacob would be “freaking out” had he known what kind of reach and difference they would make, even still, a year after his passing.

“Jacob set a great example,” Battles said. “His name is out there, not like the rest.”

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