Humble but not a hero
Cookeville’s Most Influential People – Class of 2022
A teacher, a leader, a connector of people, a relentless spirit to serve … these are how others describe Lt. Mitch Harrington. One way Mitch never wants to be described: a hero. That said, one might add humble to the list of attributes.
His perspective? He is just doing his job, a job he dreamed of since childhood.
Mitch always wanted to be a police officer, influenced at an early age by his uncle in South Carolina who “had the best stories to tell and definitely had the coolest car with the ‘gumball light’ on top.”
Those who know Mitch would say his storytelling skills and passion for serving were definitely inherited from his uncle. Mitch began his career with the Cookeville Police Department in 1988, following service with the U.S. Army.
He leads by example, encouraging his officers to treat others with respect, fairness, and dignity.
Mitch strives to understand people from various walks of life, to be aware of perceptions, and to demonstrate integrity.
“The people who have positively influenced my life have integrity first,” says Mitch. “Integrity is the one thing no one can take away from you.”
Integrity and leading by example have resulted in high achievements for Mitch, e.g. Officer of the Year from the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police, a Medal of Valor and Purple Heart from the Cookeville Police Department. He and former K-9 partner, Speedy, received top regional and national ranks for consecutive years. Mitch is also an awarded motorcycle skills competitor and credits Chief Randy Evans and Captain Randy Brown for the opportunity to also receive Motorcycle Instructor Certifications from Northwestern University and Texas A&M.
He has countless career honors, yet Mitch notes his biggest accomplishments to be his sons. There is no doubt his servant’s heart influenced their paths. He shares with great pride that one is a youth minister, firefighter, husband, and father, while the youngest is an accomplished U.S. Airforce Combat Controller with a focus in special operations.
Another influential accomplishment is Mitch’s effort in leading his own charitable organization, Harrington For Hope.
After sustaining life-threatening injuries during a call to a tragic housefire in 2016, Mitch became aware of Camp Hope, a summer camp for children who are burn victims. Already holding a special place in his heart for kids, the cause became a mission for Mitch, a way to take a horrible experience and turn it into good.
His ability to share his passion for people and willingness to serve only allows Harrington For Hope to grow each year, impacting the lives of the children who attend camp, the counselors and nurses who volunteer, and those in the Cookeville area involved in supporting or attending the annual fundraiser. More can be found at harringtonforhope.org.
– by Molly Brown