Sebastian Police Department Officer Donald Hart was named “Officer of the Year” in recognition of his distinguished service. Hart, who has been with the SPD for the last four years, was nominated by Sergeant Todd Finnegan, who felt that Hart had gone above and beyond his required duties….
The Sebastian Police Department has employed Officer Hart for the last four years, and during this time, he has been assigned to the Community Policing Endeavor Unit (COPE).
During his tenure as a COPE Officer with SPD, Officer Hart has been tasked with numerous COPE duties: RAD Kids Instructor and RAD Women Instructor, Crime Prevention Specialist, an agency liaison for Treasure Coast Crime Stoppers, SAFIR Coalition, Exchange Club, Rotary Club, the Veteran’s Council, and the Boys and Girls Club of Indian River County. Officer Hart also serves as a substitute School Resource Officer for Pelican Island Elementary School, Sebastian Elementary School, and Sebastian River Charter Junior High School.
Hart’s additional COPE Unit responsibilities include successfully planning and organizing multiple community outreach events, including back to school fun days, turkey drives, helping the homeless, Toys for Tots, Shop with a Cop, Special Olympics Torch Run, family movie nights in the park, Community Night Out, Tim Tebow’s Night to Shine, and various other COPE Unit fundraisers.
Officer Hart also provides crime prevention, active shooter, and hurricane evacuation presentations to various groups of citizens in our community. When initially coming to our agency, Officer Hart implemented a “Turkey Drive” program for our agency. This turkey drive assists less fortunate families with getting Thanksgiving and Christmas meals during the holiday season.
Officer Hart continuously goes the extra mile to help citizens in our community, even when off duty.
“Since becoming the new supervisor over the COPE and SRO Units this past year, I have worked beside Officer Hart on a daily basis and have personally observed how much he cares for all of the people that live and visit our great City of Sebastian. He continuously goes the extra mile with trying to help people, and he has been known to help our citizens even when he is off duty. I have also noticed that Officer Hart not only acts as a mentor to our local youth on a regular basis, but also to some of our newer officers,” Sergeant Todd Finnegan told Sebastian Daily.
The COPE Unit also receives requests from the road patrol officers in reference to citizens who need specialized assistance and also for neighborhood conflicts that officers don’t have the time to mediate due to their high volume of calls for service. When these requests come in, Sergeant Finnegan often delegates them to Officer Hart in order for him to provide assistance to residents.
Officier Hart promotes the core values of community policing with his actions daily.
“I have personally observed Officer Hart provide valuable solutions to many of these neighborhood issues and also provide resources to many families that struggled with finding help for their loved ones who suffer from dementia and other mental health dilemmas. Officer Hart truly promotes the core values of community policing by performing these actions, said Sergeant Finnegan.
After being tasked to organize one of the largest fundraisers in the history of the COPE Unit, the 2021 Inaugural Unity Cup Golf Tournament, the COPE Unit managed to raise several thousand dollars. These funds will be vital in providing the many important events and programs that Sebastian PD provides to the community throughout the year.
Officer Hart is clearly an incredible asset to the Sebastian Police Department’s COPE Unit.
Prior to joining the SPD, Officer Hart served for 30 years at the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office as a Community Policing Deputy, Patrol Deputy, and a Financial Crimes and Narcotics Detective.