Kevin Hood was born in Evansville, Indiana, in 1966 and, at least in some ways, his path in life seemed almost predetermined. His parents, Joann and Andy Hood, instilled in him the belief that if you were going to do something, you should do it to the best of your ability.
In 1984, Kevin’s parents moved to Ada, and, a few years later, in 1988, Kevin began serving as a deputy sheriff. In 1992, he traded in his sheriff’s office black and greys for the lighter blue uniforms across the street at the Ada Police Department. Over the next 23 years, his silver badge turned gold when he was promoted from patrolman to detective. He later added the shirt-collar chevrons of a sergeant.
One of the titles Sgt. Hood would acquire during his tenure with the police department was that of FTO (Field Training Officer). Responsible for teaching the young recruits the nuances of what it means to protect and serve, it was a role that suited him well — a role that would become a road map for the remainder of his career.
“He was born to be a trainer, to help people,” said Detective Capt. Jason Potter.
In 2015, after retiring from Ada PD, Kevin traded-in his blue uniform and become a full-time instructor at CLEET, Oklahoma’s police training academy.
“Kevin was the trifecta for us,” recalled Shannon Butler, CLEET operations manager.
Kevin was one of a few who held the certifications necessary to teach the specialized subjects of LEDT (Law Enforcement Driver Training), defensive tactics and firearms training. All three are subjects that require additional training and certifications in order to be an instructor.
On paper, with over 2,000 hours of training and 27 years of experience, there was no question he had the credentials to make the move from being a police officer to training police officers. But, speaking with any of his former cadets or coworkers, none of them talk about those hours of training or years of experience.
They talk about his exceptional ability to relate to others.
On the news of Kevin’s passing, social media posts began appearing almost immediately. The words used in the comments varied, but the common theme was always the same.
“Kevin was and always will be one of the most incredible and influential men of my lifetime.”
His co-trainers at CLEET echoed many of the same sentiments.
“I just remember him on the firing range and how he could relate to the cadets. It was something to see,” recalled instructor Doug Dolina. “He is the reason I wanted to be an instructor.”
“When we were evaluating Kevin as an instructor, you just knew he was special,” fellow instructor Vonnie Houser said.
When I sat down with his family and friends, coworkers and former cadets, the one thing that was nearly always mentioned was his heart.
His father would recall that he had a “servant’s heart.” His children and family would say he “loved with all his heart,” and his fellow officers agreed he “poured his heart into training the young recruits.”
Kevin passed March 16, 2020, from heart failure. I cannot help but wonder if that was because he gave it all away to those he came in contact with over three decades of serving, until he finally had nothing left for himself.
One thing I am certain of is, while his heart may have failed him, he will live on in ours forever.