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Why I Do the Job: Park Forest Police Officer Meghan Vold

Series features first-person essays written by police officers about their work and their dedication

Compassion is the personality trait which defines me as a police officer.

I take extreme pride in my work and helping citizens in any way I can. I strive to be empathetic in all aspects of my job and to those I meet. I make it a goal to learn some sort of interesting facts from the people I speak with as a way to try and get them to laugh or smile.

I am said to be extremely warm-hearted toward others, especially children. I love their youthfulness and energy. I’m very energetic myself and love to keep an upbeat attitude as much as possible. My goal is met when someone smiles and/or tells me “thank you.”

But, I don’t do any of this for the praise.

Last winter, while patrolling my beat following a heavy snowfall the previous night, I observed a female inside of a vehicle stuck half on the roadway and half on her driveway. The tires were spinning and the vehicle was getting nowhere. I parked my squad and got out to help her.

I told her I was going to help push her out of the rut she created with her car. She told me, “Honey you’re quite small to be pushing a car.” I respectfully told her with a smile on my face, “Small but mighty.”

Long story short, I alone pushed her car free. She was extremely grateful because she didn’t have anyone to help her. We talked for a few more minutes and then I proceeded on my way. She remembered this act of kindness and decided to nominate me for the “Above the Call of Duty” Award a year later.

Another time, while stopping to get lunch for my shift at Chicken-N-Spice in Joliet after court, I noticed a man walk into the restaurant. His clothes were disheveled and unclean, his hair matted and he was only carrying a book bag.

He ordered his lunch and, when the cashier gave him his total, he reached into his pocket and pulled out change. With a worried look on his face, he began to count the change to see if he had enough for his meal. I immediately walked up to the cash register, paid for his meal before picking up my food and leaving the restaurant. I made no comment to anyone about this encounter.

Not too long after this happened, my sergeant stopped at the restaurant and happened to meet the same cashier who told the story of my act. My sergeant came back to the department and told our chief, even though I wasn’t looking for any recognition.

I’m a firm believer in acts done out of the kindness of your heart. It was my pleasure to pay for the man’s meal that day to ease his mind just a little and show him a little kindheartedness. I truly believe simple acts of kindness go a long way and better society as a whole.

(Meghan Vold photos)

That’s why I become frustrated when I hear negativity or criticism toward my profession. However, I remind myself why I chose this awesome career and continue my goal to help as many people as I can and place as many smiles on people’s faces as possible.

It helps to know I work for a phenomenal department with amazing coworkers. I look forward to coming to work every day. I strive to be the best police officer I can be, and I want to show people that not everyone in this profession is a “bad apple.”

So, I try to paint the best picture I can while in uniform by treating everyone with respect and holding myself to the highest standard of integrity. I know I am an agent of change – good or bad – with this badge, so I strive to be an agent of greatness and set a noble example. My goal is to have a positive impact on as many people as I can in my career.

All of this started with me growing up on Chicago’s South Side where I saw a lot of Chicago police officer patrolling the streets and in our schools. I fell in love with their presence and uniforms; they looked like superheroes, and ever since I was little I wanted to be a superhero. I knew from a very young age that becoming a police officer was the precise fit for me. I wanted to be able to help people in crisis and be the shoulder they can lean on.

This profession has a lot of purpose behind it and I want to have a positive purpose in life. Our patch says “Proud to Serve” and that is what I am: extremely privileged and proud to serve my community. I truly enjoy talking to people and solving problems, which is essentially what this job boils down to.

I am an honest and compassionate person with a lot to offer to this profession. And even though we have unfortunately been seen in a negative light in recent years, I wouldn’t trade my badge for anything in the world.

Park Forest Police Officer Meghan Vold, who graduated from Western Illinois University with a law enforcement degree, joined the department nearly five years ago. She is assigned to the patrol division, also serving as a field training officer and an evidence technician. She is also a member of the South Suburban Major Accident Reconstruction Team.