CHILLICOTHE, Ill.– A Chillicothe police officer considers herself a public servant and a servant of the Lord. In this week’s CI Hero, we introduce you to Kellie Hesterberg who is going above and beyond her requirements of the badge to do more for youth in the community.
On any given day, you can find Officer Kelli Hesterberg talking to kids at a local park or at school. She’s the newly added school resource officer for Chillicothe schools.
“That’s a big part of my role as SRO is not just safety in the schools, I mean, that’s a big element of it, and that’s super important obviously,” said Officer Hesterberg. “It’s relationship building too.”
As a school resource officer, Hesterberg will have more time to dedicate to safety, but also to a wider range of kids. Principal of South School, Shaun Grant, says this will give youth a better shot at success in adulthood.
“She’ll be able to help them instantly when she wants to work with them,” said Principal Grant. “It’s just a quality building of relationships that you can do at school. We always think about early intervention and getting the kids on the right path because it’s so much easier for them later in life. For us being a pre-k through grade three building, it’s easy to build that relationship with our SRO’s that should carry all the way through high school.”
Before she landed the SRO position, Hesterberg worked third shift for the Chillicothe Police Department, which made her readily available to help young people in the community who just needed a little extra guidance to stay on the right path.
“It’s a life long impact that I know these kids are going to have and it’s pro-police kind of activity and I mean, I just don’t have a word to describe how good it is,” said Hesterberg. “With my life, I’m a servant of the Lord,” said Hesterberg. “But here I’m a civil servant and you know, I live to serve the community.”
Most of her interactions take place when she’s off duty. “A lot of ice cream dates because I’m an ice cream hog. That’s probably like my favorite food ever.”
She makes herself available to do whatever the kids want, mentoring them and providing a listening ear when they need one. Hesterberg is humble, but her boss, Chief Scott Mettille says, he sees her value and he’s not surprised to see her go this far above and beyond.
“I had no idea about this and it was a great thing to hear about,” said Chief Mettille.
Mettille says it’s who she is to her core, a public servant to the community.
“It’s the make up of her,” said Chief Mettille. “You know, she has decided whether.. she’s a police officer or maybe if she would have taken a different career path or whatever, you don’t just make this stuff up. You go out and you do it because you want to do it. Because that’s part of the make up of who you are.”
Chief Mettille says the community has been accepting of Officer Hesterberg’s mentoring, which also speaks volumes of how the community is.
“The important thing is she’s a great officer. More importantly, she’s a great person,” said chief. “We are blessed. It sounds kind of cheesy, but we are so lucky with the community of Chillicothe. They are very receiving to all of our officers, and a lot of that is credited to the community and a lot of that is credited to officer’s like Officer Kellie Hesterberg, and all the other officers that take time out.”
She may be the only female on the department, but even those in the school district can see she’s a force to be reckoned with in a positive way.
“She’s super friendly. She wants to be with the kids and be able to help them, so helpful, compassionate, friendly. [These] are some of the things I think that define her.”Shaun Grant, Principal of South School
Officer Hesterberg will continue her role as School Resource Officer for grades K-8, and she still plans to continue mentoring youth in need. She says she doesn’t do it for the recognition.
If someone you know has made made an impact on the community in a way you feel would make us Central Illinois Proud, please nominate them to be a CI Hero by clicking HERE.