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Arin Hart - "Service Above Self"

by Linda Searles October 01, 2021

Arin Hart always dreamed of making a difference in his community. His commitment to serving started while he was still in high school. He was only 17 when he completed the formal Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training program. He proudly admitted that he was the youngest licensed volunteer EMT in the state of Colorado in 1995. During that time he was also volunteering with the Southern Colorado Search & Rescue team and working for the boy scouts as a camp medical "officer."  

After high school, he turned another dream into reality when he enlisted in the United States Army.  His unit was stationed at Fort Campbell, Kentucky where he was an airborne infantryman, also known as a paratrooper. He was part of the 101st Airborne (Airassault) Division ("Screaming Eagles") and part of the Rapid Deployment Joint Task Force unit, which is a light infantry division of the United States Army, specializing in air assault operations.  The Screaming Eagles are considered the most potent and tactically mobile team of the U.S. Army's division. Arin served his country for 3 years. While on active duty, he sustained nerve damage in his back, which caused his physical condition to interfere significantly where he was no longer fit for duty, forcing an early discharge.

In 1999, a week after he was released from the army, Arin started his career in law enforcement.  He wasn’t fully convinced about becoming a police officer at the time or continuing his career in emergency medicine and as a volunteer firefighter. He decided it would be best to go back to school at a community college in Arizona where he began taking criminal justice classes as well as renewing his EMT license to help advance his career. After weighing out the pros and cons, he convinced himself that going into law enforcement would be a good fit and believed he had the right skill set to become a dedicated police officer.

He went forward with his decision and enrolled at Mohave Community College Police Academy in Bullhead City, Arizona. After the academy, he recalled one of his first days as a street cop. He remembered receiving a call about a man at a casino who was on phencyclidine, or PCP also known as “angel dust,” an illegal psychedelic drug that induces hallucinations. It was reported that the man was considered dangerous, and displayed violent and aggressive behaviors. As a new police officer, he remembered feeling overwhelmed by this incident. He also dealt with multiple suicides and the emptiness and hopelessness it left family members. He recollected this as one of the hardest parts of his job. Arin admitted that suicide calls are among the highest anxiety and stress-provoking circumstances that police officers have to respond to.

He decided to transfer to his home state of Colorado and enrolled at the Arapahoe Community College Police Academy full time in Littleton, Colorado. Arin will tell you that police work wasn’t easy, but an incident that drove him over the edge was a scene when a drunk driver drove over the overpass into oncoming traffic. The drunk driver killed an entire family that night. Driving after drinking is deadly. Yet, it continues to happen across the United States. After this senseless tragedy, this led Arin to make it his life mission to dedicate bringing awareness of drunk driving issues to the people in his community and to help prevent alcohol and drug-related traffic incidents. He then made a vow that after retirement from law enforcement he would become a teacher.

Arin had a highly successful 20-year career in law enforcement. As a police officer, he worked with several agencies, helped with hurricane Katrina, got involved in numerous critical incidents, worked on multiple investigations, worked as a midline supervisor, as an adjunct instructor for a college, instructor in the police academy, taught internally, promoted through the ranks and chain of command, became a special operations division commander, ran a part-time SWAT team, dive team, and search and rescues, served as a police chief and earned over 200 certifications in various training and investigative certifications as well as specific trainer certifications. Arin also obtained a Master's degree in criminal justice and security administration.

After being involved in shootings, he knew that as a police officer he would have to put his duty above his own life and family. When he was hit in the chest with a 44 mag ammo in 2017, he realized that he was lucky to walk away from the incident alive. He felt he was given a second chance to be around for his family and made the decision to leave the profession. He was a federal police officer with the Department of Veterans Affairs when he closed out his career in 2020 and transitioned into education.

Arin started a new career at South High School in Colorado, as an instructor in the criminal justice program. He spent an entire summer getting the program approved by the State of Colorado. He is now going into his second year of teaching and has continued facing hardships along the way. This started with a small financial budget for school supplies and facing the COVID pandemic. Arin is determined to make the program special for his students and many times uses his own money to buy the necessary equipment for his program. He’s managed to provide them with radios, blue guns, and crime scene equipment to build a crime lab in the back of the classroom, including fuming chambers, and an evidence locker. On any given day you will see one of his students wearing 80lbs of SWAT gear or investigating a crime scene.

Arin Hart

Sharing true life experiences with his students is important to Arin because he is preparing them for a career in law enforcement. Arin believes in bringing the streets to his students by showing them videos of the police academy, offering 2 weeks of drug school, and teaching them crisis management techniques. Students can learn leadership at different levels and are able to obtain Corporal, Sergeant, Lieutenant, or Captain ranks, commonly held in law enforcement agencies.  He has dedicated a wall honoring fallen officers and in the corner of his classroom has hung the Thin Blue Line flag, which represents the ideals of justice and freedom, bravery, and solidarity. On another side of the classroom, sits an empty cabinet, which he calls his law library, waiting to be filled with law books that he can’t afford. He is hoping that through fundraising and sponsorship dollars, they will raise enough money to buy what they need to aid his students in their success.

His students can earn an achievement patch and letter in criminal justice by having an overall GPA of 2.5 and 2.8 in criminal justice, passing an age-appropriate physical fitness test, and completing 50 hours of community service. Every year, students progress to another level of learning, and when they graduate they will have certifications in fingerprinting, verbal judo, crisis intervention, leadership, first aid, and CPR, as well as many other learning and certification opportunities for students to develop. If a student completes all 4 years, it will set them apart and prepare them to be successful at the police academy, secondary education, and above all, a skill set to be successful within any criminal justice organization.

Arin also started a criminal justice club for cadets at South High School, much like law enforcement explorers, where they learn to respond to calls, crisis intervention, writing reports, training batons and blue guns, radio etiquette, crime lab, fuming chambers, and teaching his students leadership skills. Students involved in the criminal justice club participate in community service projects and programs that are designed to benefit the community in a substantial way, participate in state and local competitions in criminal justice and crime scene investigation, participate in fun collaborative team-building exercises, as well as participate in ride-along programs and other criminal justice learning opportunities outside of the formal classroom.

The club also promotes and works on crime prevention projects and programs, working to increase awareness and prevention of local issues, all while developing much-needed knowledge and relationships with local law enforcement entities and agencies, businesses, and stakeholders in the community.  Club members are collaboratively more serious about joining the ranks in law enforcement working to build a foundation of knowledge and success as they develop crucial skill sets. Along with the needed skill sets, is the educational values implemented within the parameters of the developing class and club structure, service above self, as a model of student dedication and service striving to better the community both within the school and outside of the school, all while striving to promote positive needed relations between law enforcement and the community. Thank you, Arin for your years of service and for continuing to inspire our youth. 





Linda Searles
Linda Searles

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