Cruisin’ with Sgt. Steve Dearth

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Sgt. Steve Dearth is a sergeant with the Hingham Police Force and also serves as the the Department's Public Affairs Officer.   Sgt. Dearth is often seen out and about within the local community and is especially fond of stopping by any local lemonade stands he passes by (when time allows with his duties, of course).   It is rare that you don't see Sgt. Dearth smiling and his grin is contagious.  He has quite the following on Instagram, known for celebrating the original Police Cruiser - the Crown Vic - which he proudly still drives today. He also often uses  hashtag #humanizingthebadge as he shares the personal side of being a police officer. Steve and his wife are the proud parents of two daughters and Steve is a graduate of Hingham High.

Hingham, meet Sargent Steve Dearth.

Why did you become a police officer?

It may sound cliché, but I became a police officer to be able to help people and make a difference. I don’t remember ever wanting to be anything else, as a kid and growing up that is all I have ever wanted to be. My mother reminds me I was 5 when I first said I wanted to be a police officer. Every Halloween, my costume was the same. When we played cops and robbers as a kid and I was always the cop. As a kid I remember seeing the police as those people who stick up for those who are weak or being taken advantage of, they were the ones who protected people and they were not afraid to stand up for others. It was from news or TV shows that I saw this. We did not have any police officers in our family.

What exactly does your role as Police Sergeant and Public Information Officer encompass? 

My role as a Police Sergeant is, of course,  first and foremost a Police Officer. As a Sergeant , I am a supervisor. I supervise Police Officers in their everyday duties, assisting them in accomplishing their duties, approving their reports and assisting in booking/processing arrests. As a Sergeant, I am supervised by the rank above me, a Lieutenant. I am currently assigned as the Court Prosecutor as well. In this role, I process all criminal complaints and arrests by Hingham Police, represent the Department at Court in misdemeanor and traffic cases. All serious or felony cases are handled by the District Attorney’s Office. This role I act as the liaison between the Courts, District Attorney’s Office and the Police Department. As the Public Information Officer, I am also the contact between the media and the police, the representative for the police department and write/distribute press releases and run our social media.

What do you enjoy most about your work?

I enjoy that each day at work, not matter what my assignment is, I have the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life. It doesn’t have to be a lifesaving event like doing CPR, it can just be an interaction, an assist, advice or simple gesture that may not seem big to me but is to that one person.  I enjoy that every day is different. We don’t know what each day will bring, you may get to work expecting certain things may happen, and the complete opposite happens. For example, recently, I stopped to visit with some kids playing in their front yard and 15 minutes later respond to a fatal overdose.

When have you witnessed a particularly inspiring moment in the Hingham PD? 

There have been so many. It reminds me of why I go to work. One I will always remember is being in the right place at the right time and following that gut instinct police officers develop. On patrol during the day I was driving through a conservation area parking lot and saw a man in his car. This is normal, as the lot is open during the day, and many people fish or have lunch there. I waved and he just stared at me. I stopped to just say hi and walked to his car. Of course, he wasn’t doing anything illegal. Some people just don’t want to see the police. During a brief conversation, he seemed distant. He finally said he used to fish with his father there and his Dad has passed away. He said coming there reminds him of his Dad. I asked if he wanted to talk to someone or if I could assist him in some way. He gave me a puzzled look and said no. I drove away. I checked back 15 minutes later but he had driven away. I checked back 30 minutes later and his car was there but it was empty. I walked along the water and saw him with a rope and noose tied around his neck near a railing a waterfall. As I neared, he finally heard me and tried to hid the rope by zipping his jacket up to his neck. We began a dialogue, he said he wanted to die, and soon he was in an ambulance going to the hospital. Six months later, I received a card with a letter from his wife thanking me for being there for him that day. She said that day was his birthday, he never showed up to work and had actually left a suicide note at their that morning. When she came home from work that afternoon she found the note but could not find him (they lived in another town). She wanted us to know things are better for him now and he is continuing treatment.

Your Instagram account has an impressive number of followers, with the hashtag #HumanizingTheBadge in the bio. What does that mean?

On my Police Sergeant Instagram account, I use the hashtag #HumanizingTheBadge on many posts. It is simply an effort to show people that we are real people. The person wearing this uniform is a mother/father, husband/wife, son or daughter. They are your neighbors. We are just like everyone else, we just chose to do a job that some people have no respect for. We make mistakes, we laugh and we cry. I did not create that hashtag, several of my friends use it also. Fortunately, the PIO position allows me to attend trainings, conferences and network with other social media Officers so I am learning all the time. Another hashtag I use and enjoy is #CopsLoveLemonadeStands. It was started in California and we use it when we stop and visit kids selling lemonade. That interaction lets us meet kids, many who have never met a Police Officer before, and they see us as real people who they can talk to and come for help. It’s also a great way to recharge our batteries at work and see the good in people. The homemade lemonade is a bonus.

What does the hashtag mean to you?

The hashtag means to me that Officers are real people who are doing a job.

What do you love most about your cruiser?

I really like my assigned cruiser. It is our last Ford Crown Victoria. It was a police car that we used for decades and became the symbol for a police car for so many years. Ford stopped making them in 2011. We now use the Ford Explorer Police Interceptors for patrol. My cruiser has a history here, it was a patrol car, then became a K9 cruiser (for K9 Pablo) and now is back to a back-up patrol car. It is not a ‘front line’ cruiser, meaning it is not a cruiser used 24/7 for patrol use but it can be if needed. I use it most days. I honestly enjoy the look of it and the fact that it is becoming a more rare sight. I take pride in keeping it looking sharp. Each year more are phased out of police departments across the Country. Our administration here and our community have been amazing in their support helping to keep it going. I hope someday it can be used at community events, parades, and similar public events because soon people will be only used to seeing the police in SUV’s so it will be unique.

What do you find rewarding about serving Hingham residents?

I find the most rewarding thing about serving the residents of Hingham is the support they give. We are so fortunate to have such a supportive community who care about the police officers, support us publically and trust us. That faith they have in what we do means so much.

What is your favorite local spot?

Picking one favorite spot in Hingham is difficult for me. We are fortunate to have so much to offer here In Hingham. I would say Worlds End would be my favorite place though. Summer there is my favorite time, but it is amazing in any season.

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be? 

One piece of advice I would give my younger self would be life is short and changes so quickly, so enjoy every minute.

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