By Sammie Ann Wicks
Forget everything you thought you knew about an Arizona constable’s work—Tempe’s new man in that job will tell you a far different story.
“I’m here to do this job in a spiritual way,” says Kent Rini, newly elected constable of Maricopa County’s Kyrene Justice Court Precinct. “And I want to encourage other constables to operate within that deeper awareness.”
Yes, you heard the word “spiritual” attached to the sometimes gritty work of serving the area’s Justice of the Peace and Magistrate courts’ subpoenas, evictions, and all. Rini, a Democrat, defeated incumbent Brandon Schmoll, a Republican, in the Nov. 6 general election.
But Rini, after a lifetime in security and law enforcement, came by his spirituality the hard way—by narrowly escaping death.
Basically, Rini says, “I died. Then I was transported to the spiritual dimension, where I talked to God.” This after sustaining multiple injuries in a car accident in 1973 and passing through a classic near-death experience.
“One of the injuries was that I suffered a broken jaw,” Rini remembers, “which in and of itself might have been OK, but the ER nurse misapplied the mouth tube, and when I threw up, I choked to death.” At this point, says Rini, other, more transcendent, awareness ensued.
“At the moment of choking, I started floating up, and then I continued floating up through the ceiling,” Rini says. “Finally, I began to experience something—it’s hard to put into words—something like universal consciousness. Within that, I actually met God.”
Such an experience was life-changing, says Rini, and ultimately caused him to make major changes in his life goals.
“As a college student, I got into acting, did radio and other shows for the public media networks,” Rini remembers, “and in general tried to incorporate everything I could within the area of my communications major.”
He received a B.A. in communications from Florida International University, went on to earn a communications M.A. from Arizona State University, and often worked as an actor, even landing a small part in “Jerry Maguire.” But his brush with death, Rini says, changed everything.
“There I was, engrossed in my communications studies, and then the accident,” Rini recounts. “With that experience, I decided to come back to this world and be of service.”
The rest of his life seemed to follow on in good order.
“I knew it was time to focus my studies in a higher vein, something that would help foster spiritual growth,” says Rini, and after receiving a doctor of divinity degree from Scottsdale’s Logos Center, he became an ordained minister.
He’s quick to add the work of a constable and the role of a minister pose no great conflict for him.
“I believe my spiritual beliefs will shape my professional conduct more than anything else,” Rini says, adding he hopes to change the approach to his area of law enforcement for the better.
“I’m not a redneck—I’m here to give constables a new idea,” says Rini, “one that’s pledged in its heart to truly protect and serve. I going to see that everybody is safe, and gets equal treatment.”
The new constable notes he will use his long experience in security to help him broaden the duties required of him by the courts.
“I owned and operated a security and alarm company for 18 years,” says Rini, “and learned a whole host of things that will help me be a better constable.”
With an awareness that the position of constable carries more direct individual citizen contact than any other law enforcement position, Rini says he wants his constituents to know his outreach to them will be a major effort.
“Anybody who wants my personal cell phone number will get it,” Rini says. “I’m even publishing my number in all my literature. And I’ll have a constable car—I want people to see me.” He plans to expand another area of community service as well.
“Not only do I want people to be able to phone in 24/7,” Rini says, “I also see myself as an educator—and I plan to offer safety seminars to the community as I have done in the past.”
Rini worked for 12 years with Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone in the county’s Silent Witness program, and also offered safety courses for SEVRAR, the SouthEast Valley Regional Association of Realtors, where he is an affiliate director. He adds his time working
with the sheriff’s office was especially instructive.
“Sheriff Penzone started a new and better policing philosophy of action, reaching out to the community, and initiating such things as shutting down tent city,” Rini says, “and I want to move in a similar direction in the work that I do.” Rini also has plans for neglected populations in the community.
“Yes, I want to serve the whole community, and I will certainly do that,” Rini promises, “but I will be especially protective of children and the elderly. The elder population in particular experiences abuse that sometimes goes unnoticed—I saw a lot of situations involving the elderly while working with Paul (Penzone).”
But that’s the thing with Kent Rini: just when you think you’ve got a grasp on him as a committed law enforcement official, he shows you another vista into his motivations.
“Look. Everything is about higher consciousness—I want to always be drawing on that,” Rini reflects. “That’s what my death experience, and my involvement with Noetic Science, taught me.”
(In its modern practice, Noetic Science is dedicated to the study of, among other things, psychic phenomena, parapsychology and the Higher Mind, advanced in this country in the 1970’s by former NASA Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Dean “Ed” Mitchell.)
And Higher Mind is what Kent Rini is all about.
“For me, it always has to come down to this: Every day I go out into the world, and I judge myself according to my spirituality. I strive to do everything in a spiritual way—and that’s the way I will serve the people.”