By Jeff Bryan
For as long as he can remember, Bruce Robbie Arnold wanted a career in law enforcement.
After graduating from Citrus High School in 1999, he enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, serving an eight-year stint in the reserves. However, Arnold said, he spent most of his time on active duty, accepting as many training assignments as he could. During his brief time in the Marines, he did a one-year tour in Iraq.
It was while in the Marines, though, that Arnold met his future wife, Sunshine. Married with children, both Arnold and his wife left the Marines. Neither wanted to be away from family if duty called.
Upon his return to full-time civilian life, Arnold spent time working in the construction industry. But the economic downturn, hard on most, turned out to be a blessing in disguise for the 29-year-old father of two.
At his wifes urging to follow his dreams, Arnold did just that. He enrolled at the police-training academy at Withlacoochee Technical Institute in 2009. Upon his graduation, he joined the Dunnellon Police Department on Dec. 31, 2009.
I always kept saying I was going to go (to training), Arnold said. But I just never did it. Then work slowed down and my wife encouraged me to follow my dreams.
With his first-year anniversary having just passed, Arnold has surely made his impact felt throughout the department, so much so that he was named the Dunnellon Police Department Officer of the Year for 2010.
I was shocked, excited, Arnold said of the recognition. I know we have a lot of good officers here.
His first year was certainly busy, especially with the late-July armed robbery at SunTrust Bank on East Pennsylvania. He was on duty and received the call. But Police Chief Joanne Black credits Arnolds follow-up work that led to the capture of Todd Kobielus, who confessed to the SunTrust robbery as well as the one at Capital City Bank in Citrus Springs.
He did not stop one bit while working that case, Black said. He was in here on his days off following up every lead he got. He worked tirelessly on that case. That says a lot about him. He was very determined.
Black notes Arnolds military training has made for an easy transition into law enforcement. She also said his demeanor and appearance has made a difference within the department as well.
He is very professional, Black said, noting his boots are always shined and uniformed pressed. You can tell he is top notch. Hes a good example for everyone else.
But Black said even though Arnold might come off with a hard surface, underneath hes soft. She credits seeing him during the Special Olympics run at the annual games at Walt Disney World for noticing his other side.
He didnt want to stop, he wanted to keep going, Black said. He said afterward he was very touched, that he was honored to have taken part in it.
Arnold is hoping to help implement a fitness program for the department, an idea Black wholeheartedly endorses.
Hes very health conscious, she said.
Black foresees a solid career in law enforcement for Arnold.
He has a very bright future ahead of him, she said.