By Katie Anderson
There were two anniversaries in the past week for the Licking Police Department. Scott Lindsey has been with LPD for 20 years as of May 26, and Mike Hood has been with LPD for 14 years as of May 21. This week, we are focusing on Sergeant Mike Hood.
Starting out in retail management in his hometown of Los Angeles, California, officer Mike Hood moved to Licking when he was 33-years-old.
“But I always wanted to get into law enforcement.”
It was a dream of his ever since he was about eight- or nine-years-old.
“I guess my real first encounter with law enforcement was when a house down the street from ours had been robbed, and I didn’t really know what was going on,” said Hood. “The strangers were walking around with a TV and other interesting things. So, my mother called the police, and they pulled up and looked just like the guys out of Adam-12 (the old police TV show), the old car, the one light, the bus-driver hat, the whole nine yards. I described the car to them, and I described the guys, and I said I know where the car usually is, I’ve seen it in the neighborhood before. So, they asked my mother if I could ride along with them, and I did and took them over to the house and sure enough, they caught them red-handed unloading everything. I thought, ‘This is really cool, we caught bad guys, and were able to return stolen property back to the owners, my neighbors.’ Ever since then, I was hooked.”
“I moved out here because it was my vacation spot for several years,” continued Hood. “An old childhood friend of mine moved out here because of family. Finally I was like, ‘Find me a house, I’ll be here in six months.’”
When Hood first moved out here, he was single and no kids yet. He started out as the assistant manager at the Town & Country Market for a while. He was then the manager over at Rinne’s for a while, and those jobs paid to put him through the academy here.
“I graduated in April of 2004,” Hood reminisced. “I remember pulling into my driveway one day and chief Lindsey, who was a sergeant back then, asked if I was graduating soon and I said ‘Yea in a couple weeks,’ and he asked, ‘Well, would you like a job?’”
Now, Hood is enjoying the small-town cop life and also being a dad to three kids; Athena, who is 17, Nicholas, 13, and Anthony, who just turned 9.
“I always wanted to be a small town cop, where I knew everybody, and I could always take care of my own. I jumped on the chance, and have been happy here ever since.”
Much like chief Lindsey’s response, Hood said the technology has been the biggest part that has changed since he started.
“Communications. We all have digital radio systems. We can listen to and talk to anyone in the state. I’m the Taser instructor for the police department, and when I first started, they existed (not in the form we have today, but it was something), but we used to have to go hands-on with people. Which is more dangerous for us, but also more dangerous for them.”
“One big advantage that I’ve seen over the years is advent of the body camera,” said Hood. “I love the body camera. We started out with dashboard cameras, which are fantastic, but you had to make sure that everything going on is in front of the car. Well now, wherever I go, the lens goes, and it records everything. If an officer is accused of saying or doing something, we’ve got the video record and the camera doesn’t lie.”
He continued to say, “It also makes us be better police officers because we know there is always a record of everything that we’re doing. It just reinforces our training. I love having it.”
Most memorable experiences on the job?
“I remember working a new years day morning, January 1, of I think it was ’09. I was only one of two officers on duty in the county at that time. We got to be on the lookout for a murder suspect in a car coming down from St. Louis area, supposedly headed towards West Plains. And I thought to myself, ‘Oh they’d never come by here,’ and like two seconds later, son of a gun, that’s the car. And I got on the radio and talked to dispatch and they said, ‘Well that’s the car,’ and I said that there were three people in it and I’m not stopping it all by myself – that’s just policy and training. The only other officer was a Houston officer, and I had him set up at the Houston city limits. I figured I would follow this guy until I had appropriate backup.
“In the meantime, I called chief Lindsey on the phone and told him what I had and he said that he was getting his uniform on right now and would be right behind me. And sure enough, we got the vehicle stopped, and we used a felony stop tactic, one-by-one we got them out, and got the murder suspect, who was later found guilty in court. He had all the evidence in the car with him. It was rather exciting to pull someone like that off the street.”
“I love when we solve burglaries and thefts, because people work hard for what they have and I don’t like seeing someone else just take from them. I’ve had things taken from me in the past and I just don’t like it. Also, we are all really big on getting drugs out of our town, off our streets, and away from our kids. Any time we can make a good narcotics arrest, or solve a case, it’s a win-win.”
“I do hopefully see myself in the future with working more with the schools. My favorite thing is interaction with the children. I’ve done the safety talks with them in class. I’ve talked with all of them, from preschoolers running around on the bus, to the high schoolers about drugs and narcotics. I would like to see an in-school resource officer in our schools. I think it’s a sign of the times. It would make life a lot easier for not only the students and the staff, but to have someone there on scene that could handle the daily squabbles at school and not take away from the officer who is on duty and on the street.”
Hood doesn’t see himself retiring any time soon, considering he has three kids with the youngest being nine. He would like to stay in local law enforcement as long as possible.
“As long as I can function and do my job! The day I can’t put handcuffs on somebody is the day I have to call it quits, because then I’m a liability to myself and to everyone else,” said Hood.