When police officers arrived at the public library, the suspect had already stolen money and was in the process of stealing two computers. He ran out the back door, and a young police officer gave chase. Nearly a mile, four fences, a soccer field and a baseball field later, the suspect tripped, and the pursuing officer tackled him and arrested him.
Another day, the same officer responded to a call from a hotel where a man was brandishing a knife and threatening to kill himself. “I can’t let you do that,” said the officer before subduing him and getting him the help he needed. On still another occasion, the same policeman saved a life by administering CPR to a heart attack victim.
These were not episodes of CBS’s highly popular Blue Bloods series, and it wasn’t Officer Reagan chasing down thieves and saving lives. It was Stratton Hatch, a former sprinter at Holbrook High School, a graduate of the NPC police academy and now a decorated officer of the law.
Hatch first got interested in law enforcement while working as a fee collector and dispatcher at Petrified Forest National Park and later as a member of the Army National Guard. Sponsored by the Holbrook Police Department, he graduated from the Northeastern Arizona Law Enforcement Training Academy at NPC in 2013. The NPC police academy “trained me very well,” Hatch says. “We had really great instructors and our class commander was awesome. It prepared me physically and mentally for the mindset of what to do when faced with a bad situation.”
At NPC, Hatch learned valuable lessons from Stuart Bishop, the academy director and a former law enforce-ment officer in Pinetop. He learned about traffic laws from DPS officers and instructors and more from Navajo County sheriff’s offi-cers and Show Low police. He worked hard to keep up on the reading and prepare for weekly tests.
After each classroom session, Hatch and his fellow cadets engaged in rigorous training. They did push-ups, sit-ups and ran sprints and fire tower steps. Cadets also practiced striking, kicking and blocking punches and had to pass inspections. “They educate you and pre-pare you for a career in law enforcement,” Hatch recalls. “Physical fitness is a passion of mine, and I enjoyed the rigorous training.” His impressive academy performance caught the attention of Bishop.
“Stratton attended one of the first NPC police academy classes,” Bishop says. “He showed his dedication to the profession by completing the academy and receiving the top recruit and top physical fitness award for the class.”
Hatch started his police career as an evidence techni-cian with the Holbrook Police Department. He became a patrol officer in July 2013 and earned commendations and plaques for excellence. He also served on a regional special response team. “I met a lot of Show Low guys and enjoyed working with them,” he says. “They encouraged me to apply for openings in the Show Low depart-ment and eventually I did.”
Joining the Show Low police force last year as a patrol officer, Hatch says, “There are more opportunities here and it’s a bigger agency. Everything fell into place in Show Low. It’s fun and you’re out and about helping people.”
Bishop says, “As I have kept in touch with Stratton over the years, I heard he has performed his job as a law
enforcement officer as a total professional and is well- respected among his peers.”
If you want to make a difference by serving your com-munity, then you may want to consider a career in law enforcement. The NPC training academy is located at the Jake Flake Emergency Services Institute in Taylor and is fully accredited by the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board. To enroll, a student must first obtain the sponsorship of a law enforcement agency, must be able to pass physical agility and written tests and undergo a background investigation and polygraph. Classes run for 18 weeks, with more than 800 hours of classroom instruction and 500 hours of physical fitness and hands-on training.