2008-05-22 / News

Police officer started out as a teacher

By Sam Bari

John Areson John Areson John Areson, 36, has been a Jamestown police officer since December 2003. Hired by now retired Lt. Paul Balzer, Areson attended the Rhode Island Police Academy in Lincoln, with fellow officer Derek Carlino.

Areson is a native Rhode Islander who has lived in Warwick all his life. He graduated from Warwick Veterans Memorial High School with his twin brother Jay, who is six minutes younger. After graduation, the twin brothers attended Tarkio College in Missouri on football scholarships. John returned to Rhode Island after two years and earned his bachelors' degree in criminal justice from Rhode Island College in Providence.

After graduation, Areson was hired by the Adult Correctional Institute in Cranston where he was the substance abuse councilor in the maximum-security section. He worked at the ACI for five years and furthered his education while he was there. Areson earned a masters' degree at Providence College as a state certified teacher in special education.

"I then got a job at Valley Community Schools," Areson said. "I taught all subjects to boys with behavioral problems. The classes were small, which gave me an opportunity to give them the personal attention they needed. The idea was to get them to integrate back into the mainstream of the public school system."

He then decided he wanted to put his criminal justice skills to work and answered a newspaper ad for police officers in Jamestown. He was hired and sent to the police academy in December of 2003, and began work as an officer in 2004. Since, Areson has become the elderly affairs officer and a training officer for his colleagues in the department.

"I always wanted to be a policeman," Areson said. "I enjoy working in the community more than in the prison system, although that had its rewards. I think everything from helping the elderly to training other officers makes the job interesting. Every day is a different challenge. That's what makes me look forward to going to work in the morning, or whatever shift I happen to be working," he said.

He also said the department is staffed with well-trained people who are good to work with. "And that makes the job a lot easier," Areson added.

When he is off duty, Areson spends his time boating and fishing. "I love to sail," Areson said, "and I play basketball at least three times a week.

"I spend a lot of time with my family," Areson said. "My parents have been married for more than 40 years. Most of us live in Rhode Island. Those who don't are scattered around New England. My older brother is a social studies teacher at Veterans Memorial, the same high school we all graduated from. My twin is a special education teacher at Johnston High School."

Officer John Areson is single and lives in Warwick.

This past weekend, Officer Areson's 17-year-old cousin, Rebecca Whitefield, tragically died in an automobile accident in Attleboro, Mass. The passenger riding with her was critically injured. Neither were wearing seatbelts.

Areson said Rebecca was a beautiful young girl with promise of a rewarding future. He reminds all drivers to always wear their seatbelts because there is so much to lose should an accident happen.

For the next couple of weeks, the "Click it or Ticket" program will be in effect, Areson said. He hopes everyone will take the intent of the program seriously, and remember to buckle up.

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