"A hero is someone who runs towards danger while others are running from it."
Jody Grove will do just that as she takes on her new role as cop in the small community of Raymond. Mayor Denny Held presented Grove her badge on Aug. 19, and she started patrolling her new grounds the very next day.
The officer attended Training Academy in Springfield part-time in 2009, and worked for the Girard and Virden police departments for roughly three to four years. Six years later she would complete her transition at Southwestern Illinois College in Belleville before going back to her hometown.
"A position opened in Kincaid and I decided to go home," she said. "That's where I went to school, its where I graduated, so I decided to go home and help clean up my hometown."
During her tenure in Kincaid, she and her chief patrolled Kincaid, Bulpitt, Jeisyville and Tovey, with over 2,000 residents to protect. They would take swift action to unveil the monster of meth, both dealers and fabricators, and theft.
"It took us almost five years to clean it up," she said. "We started a Safe Passage program, which is now all over Christian County."
In the fight against the opioid crisis, Safe Passage allows addicts to come to the Sheriff's Department or local police stations at any time to get help instead of jail time.
"They can come in, speak to us, we get them a coordinator and that coordinator gets them straight into detox," said Grove.
Following detox, a coordinator will arrange for an addict to enter rehab.
"We're noticing these are people that have never had a criminal history, you'll never see them doing anything," she said. "They're doing something to get the drug but sending them to jail is not going to be the answer, so we get them the help they need."
Although sobriety may not be achieved the first, or maybe even the second or third time, however, Christian County has witnessed much success. Grove said most of the addicts they've encountered are in counseling or serving as a chauffeur to other addicts who need the program's services.
"Its awesome," she said. "They were shocked to meet a police department who cared more about them than sending them to jail."
But when a position opened in Raymond, Grove decided it was time to turn the next page in her career.
"Unfortunately there was a tragedy here and it left a hole in the community," she said. "And they missed seeing the squad car."
As far as serving the Raymond community, Grove said her goal is to meet and build relationships with citizens and business owners, be present within the small town and "get some of the traffic to slow down." That is the biggest complaint here, especially on the main road, she said.
"This is more up my alley; I'm more of a people person," Grove explained. "I'm no better than anyone else. I'm the same as they are. Just because I have a badge on doesn't mean anything. I want to be at their level. I want to know about them, their family history and if they have medical issues so the next time I go to their house, I already know what's going on and know what I need to do, if I need to expedite something or if there's an issue, I'm already prepared for it."
After just a short time in her new community, Grove has enjoyed becoming familiar with her neighborhood and declared, "people here are just awesome and the board has been awesome."
She has been married to her husband, Brian Grove, for 22 years and he encouraged her to follow her dreams of becoming a police officer. The couple travelled with Brian's military service, and upon returning home, Jody said her husband missed the uniform and became a police officer, ultimately leading her to the blue line, too. The Groves reside in Taylorville and share four daughters.
When she's not saving the world – whether it be the man whose neighbor's grass is too tall or performing rescue measures – the officer enjoys riding motorcycles with her husband, hitting the batting cages with her daughters, attending old time car shows and cruise-ins, and playing World of Warcraft.
"When the kids find out about it, I play with a lot of them online," Grove said. "I still keep a connection with some of my kids back there (Kincaid)."
To contact Officer Grove, please call the village hall at 217-229-4516.
"They (the community) can come talk to me anytime. My door is always open," she said. "I have an open door policy for everyone. If they need someone just to talk to, call me, I"m only a phone call away."