Several employees of the Arkansas City Police Department traveled July 26 to the Little Apple to support one of their own.
ACPD Master Police Officer Chase Hobart was named School Resource Officer of the Year by the Kansas Juvenile Officers Association (KSJOA).
Hobart’s family was in Manhattan to cheer his accomplishment, as well. In fact, they traveled there to surprise him.
“When my wife, kids, and my brother and his wife called me as I was getting ready for the awards banquet, they asked me what room I was in and said they were there to surprise me,” Hobart said in an interview last week. “They came up to my room and had a giant handmade card saying how proud they were of me.”
“Then, with a confused look on my face, my wife told me I got the SRO of the Year award, and Lt. (Eric) Burr and Chief (Dan Ward) were here, as well,” he said.
“I was completely surprised,” Hobart said. “I had no idea I was even in the running for such a thing.”
DARE to be excellent
While Hobart was not sure who nominated him, he did know part of the criteria for choosing the award recipient were outstanding job performance and community involvement.
“(Hobart) was celebrated by his peers from across Kansas for his dedication to the youth of Ark City, his passion for keeping our schools safe, and his commitment to community through programs like DARE Camp, National Night Out, Popsicle Patrol, Coffee with a Cop, Neighborhood Watch (and) many more,” states a post on the ACPD Facebook page.
These programs are just a few of those in which Hobart participates.
His drive to reach the youth of Ark City is one which was born out of his own life experiences.
“I know how hard life was as a teenager and it’s only gotten harder,” Hobart said. “I love nothing more than to be a child’s voice when no one will give them the chance to talk.”
Hobart on the spot
While on duty, Hobart generally is located at a school in the Arkansas City Public School District where he interacts with students every day.
“When you make contact with a kid — whether that’s in a crisis situation or handing out a popsicle — you’re building a rapport with them that may hugely benefit you and that child in the future. They are at the most influential time in their life. If I can help them by being a positive role model, instilling good morals and values, that’s what makes this job all worth it,” he said.
“My only hope is that I continue to build trust with these kids. Enough trust that they come to me in times of struggle and triumph.”
Another key factor Hobart sees in his passion to work with the community is a direct result of the negativity seen all around the world.
“I think it is pivotal that we continue to grow closer, and bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community. I love showing people that we are simply human behind the badge,” Hobart said.
This is true not just of the students he interacts with, but adults in the community, too.
“I truly think my love for people and community comes from my upbringing,” Hobart said. “Growing up in Burden, there was a sense of pride. You knew everybody, and that’s missing in a lot of places these days. I want to bring that feeling of pride to Ark City.”
Getting the job done
Hobart isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty while doing his work.
Evidence of this can be found in the hands-on approach he takes to DARE Camp, National Night Out and the fundraising efforts for those events.
“Most know, if there’s a job to be done, I’ll take the lead to know it gets done right,” he said.
His talents lend themselves perfectly to being an SRO, Hobart said.
“Becoming a police officer, where I get to combine my love for kids and the community as I am now as a School Resource Officer, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do in my life,” he said.
“It’s easy when it’s something you are passionate about!”
KSJOA is an organization committed to Kansas kids.
It was established in 2009 by the merging of Kansas DARE Officers Association and the Kansas School Resource Officers Association.
Active membership is limited to those who work in the Kansas juvenile justice system or educators who have active DARE, GREAT, or SRO officers.