PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — A longtime leader with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office officially retired on Wednesday.

Growing up, Ronda Guyton said she wanted to work in law enforcement and one area in particular piqued her interest.

“I knew that I wanted to start at the ground level, so that’s starting in corrections. You want the opportunity to know the people that you’re going to be dealing with,” Guyton said.

Her interest turned into a 28-year career with the Peoria County Sheriff’s Office.

Guyton started by working in corrections and worked her way up to being named undersheriff in 2017, making her the first black person and woman to do so in Peoria County.

“It allows for other women to come into this role, other young people to see that they can do this too, and there’s no limits,” Guyton said.

One of Guyton’s main goals throughout her career, she said, was to carry a positive attitude each day.

“When you’re talking to detainees, you want to have a calm demeanor and people will remember that. So when you see them again out on the street, they’re going to appreciate how you talked to them and the care you gave to them,” Guyton said.

Last November, Guyton was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer, which has no cure. This led to her retirement on Wednesday, surrounded by colleagues and family.

“I wanted to focus more on my health and more on the community,” Guyton said. “It was time for me to step away and also focus on family.”

Peoria County Sheriff Chris Watkins said Guyton was his field training officer and he’s learned a lot through her over the years, including how to relate to and speak to members of the community.

“She’s just been a staple of this department,” Sheriff Watkins said of Guyton’s tenure.

Watkins added to see her step away from the department is definitely bittersweet.

“We’re still going to see her out in the community but we’re glad that she’s happy moving on to her next chapter,” Watkins said.

Next, Guyton said she wants to travel and will remain involved in community organizations. She said she looks forward to seeing the sheriff’s department continue growing in the areas of detainee meals, re-entry, mental health services, and chaplain services.

Assistant corrections superintendent Carmisha Turner will be her successor. Turner will become the second black woman to hold the title of corrections undersheriff in Peoria County.