Champaign County Sheriff’s Deputy Shawn Hallett has always held the police in high regard.
“As a child, I remember having respect for the local town police officer,” Hallett said. “I looked up to him, but really wasn’t quite sure that is wanted I wanted to be.”
Hallett said he knew he wanted to have a job where he could help people, but was undecided on what that job would be.
After high school, Hallett joined the United States Coast Guard.
“It was fitting for me because it is a humanitarian service,” he said. “It mostly consisted of search and rescue operations, law enforcement and boarder security.”
While in the U.S. Coast Guard, Hallett was a diesel mechanic, but had other collateral duties, including shipboard firefighting, emergency medical technician and work with federal law enforcement.
When he gravitated towards the law enforcement duties, that’s when Hallett realized what his calling was.
During his time as a sheriff’s deputy, Hallett has worked as a field training officer, neighborhood watch coordinator, crisis intervention team member, mobile field force member and drug court officer.
Now, he is taking on a different challenge as he enters his 16th year at the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office.
Hallett is the new school resource officer for St. Joseph-Ogden High School, Prairieview-Ogden and St. Joseph Grade and Middle School.
Hallett said he is excited and ready to face the challenges being a school resource officer will bring. Early in his career, he applied for an SRO position at Unity, but didn’t get the job. Years later, while Hallett was assigned as the Savoy contract car the Champaign Unit 4 school Carrie Busey was built in Savoy.
“I had the opportunity then to be a part-time SRO for Carrie Busey, and I really enjoyed the interaction with the students,” Hallett said. “It was chance for me to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the general public by having a positive police contact with them.”
Hallett said he feels schools having an SRO is important because of the amount of violence that happens in society.
“To keep the students safe is a huge responsibility,” he said.
Hallett said he believes having law enforcement in the schools acts as a deterrent while also cutting the response time if something did happen that needed police intervention.
Hallett said he is excited about his new role and building trusting relationships with the students, staff and parents of the SJO school district and its feeder districts.
“My primary responsibility will be to do everything I can do to make sure the students feel safe and have a secure learning environment,” he said. “I would like the parents to know that I have the safety of their children at heart.”
Hallett said he knows being an SRO is a different style of policing, but his approach will not be any different than when he was working a regular beat. Hallett said the key to effective policing is being courteous and showing respect to whomever he has contact with. He also tries to be approachable and non-judgmental.
“I am fair,” he said. “However, if enforcement action needs to be taken, I will not be afraid of doing that.”
He said he hopes students will know that his door is always open if they have something they need or want to talk about. Hallett said the most rewarding part of being an SRO is connecting with and making a positive influence on students.
“I understand that not all the students will come to me to express their feelings,” he said. “But how awesome would it be, though, f they were comfortable enough to do so. That is what I will be working on with the students.”
Hallett said his first day on the job was exciting, but he was also nervous because he is replacing Deputy Alicia Maxey, who is on medical leave due to a knee injury.
“I have much respect for Deputy Maxey,” Hallett said. “She has been a staple in the community and she has earned the trust of the students, staff and parents. Now, I will have to work just as hard as Deputy Maxey did to earn that same trust from the students, staff and parents.”