The Tampa Police Department is mourning the loss of a long-time officer. Master Patrol Officer Fred Arnold III was killed in an off-duty SCUBA diving accident in Nevada this weekend.
MPO Fred Arnold spent 27 years on the TPD force. Not only was he considered an outstanding officer, many are thankful for the impact he had on hundreds of at-risk youth through the Tampa Police Explorer program.
In his official police photo, you can catch a glimpse into what so many describe as the warm heart of MPO Fred Arnold III. Some of that was also on display for TV cameras in the A&&E show "Rookies".
"He was easy going, approachable. He was so nice, quiet. But his laugh was just so infectious. Once you'd get him to laugh, it'd brighten up a day, a room, whatever," said Shameka Fennie.
Shameka Fennie's daughter Buniesha Kitt is one of the hundreds of teens mentored by MPO Arnold through the Tampa Police Department's explorer program. And the single mom says Arnold made a huge difference in her daughter's life.
"She wanted to give up a couple times. But he was always there, basically like a father figure, but also a male police officer figure just to encourage her to continue to pursue her career," said Fennie.
His determination to see Buniesha succeed, worked. She's in college right now, studying to become a police officer. Even without MPO Arnold to keep pushing her, and so many other young people, Fennie knows he's leaving a lasting legacy.
"I believe that once the seed's planted, it's going to grow. So he planted a lot of seeds, and a lot of young people and individuals lives to where that's what they'll hold onto, the memory of him and also what he instilled inside of them," said Fennie.
We're expecting to hear from some of MPO Arnold's colleagues at TPD Monday. So far, there's no word on funeral arrangements.