Editor’s note: This story is part of a joint publishing effort between Garfield School District Re-2 and The Citizen Telegram. Visit http://bit.ly/2bQXQ0o to listen to the full conversation between Edgar Lara and Dustin Marantino.
Rifle High School graduate Edgar Lara always wanted to be a police officer.
“I think all little kids want to be a fireman or a police officer,” said Lara. “Eventually, as you grow older, those things go away. I wanted to be a pilot and that went away. I grew up in Rifle and I watched the Rifle Police Department. I always looked up to (the Rifle Police officers).”
Lara came to Rifle when he was 6 years old, after his father was able to secure the proper documents for he and his family to travel from Mexico. Lara didn’t know any English when he began first grade at Wamsley Elementary School. He then attended Rifle Middle School, and in 2013 graduated from Rifle High School.
It was his experiences as a Rifle High School Bear that propelled him into his current career.
“I remember one time in high school, officer Marantino came to our class and talked about what he did. That really caught my attention,” said Lara during an interview with officer Dustin Marantino, one of five Rifle High School graduates on the Rifle Police Department. “He was the officer I saw most and he was a positive role model.”
Lara started going on ride-alongs with the Rifle PD and from there his enthusiasm grew. After taking some criminal justice classes at Colorado Mesa University, Lara enrolled in the Colorado Mountain College Police Academy. Lara was sworn in as the newest Rifle police officer in July.
“It’s always different. That’s what I really like,” he explained. “Growing up in Rifle, watching the Rifle Police Department, this is where I wanted to be.”
For Marantino, the opportunity to mentor students at his alma matter was one he appreciated.
“I was able to speak about law enforcement as a career to the students,” added Marantino, who served as the RHS school resource officer. “I remember our kids wondering if law enforcement would even be a viable career for them. I would use that as an opportunity to talk about the classes at RHS that could support our kids in their careers.”
When Lara puts on the Rifle Police Department uniform, it is a sense of pride, illustrating who he is, and how he can make a difference in a community that has given so much to him.
“I feel like I can make a difference for someone. I feel like I can be more approachable, and help break some of the barriers in our community, and do something positive for all residents of Rifle,” said Lara. “I think I made the right choice. I hope I can have a long career and stay in the town I grew up in.”
The Rifle police force consists of 19 officers. Five are Rifle High School graduates including Lara, Marantino, Jose Valadez, Will VanTeylingen and Carlos Cornejo.
Theresa Hamilton is director of districtwide services for Garfield School District Re-2. You can reach her at email@example.com or by calling 970-665-7621.
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