May 20, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Landers to be honored by village

Aaron Landers dedicated his life to serving others.


For 24 years, Landers served as a University of Illinois Police Officer and was a long-time member of the bomb squad.


“Lt. Landers was extremely passionate about his work,” said University Police Chief Alice Cary. “You could see that in everything he did, in how he interacted with people, and in the genuine relationships he was able to build. He cared deeply about serving the community.”


In 2020, he was named as the supervisor of the department’s new Community Outreach and Support Team, which was tasked with providing educational programming for the campus community, support resources, community engagement, and mental health crisis intervention.


The dedicated public servant died in August after a drunk driver hit his motorcycle.


Landers’ friend, Jim Acklin, said Landers was a good person who was dedicated to serving his community.


Acklin had known Landers since he was 14 years old and a track athlete. For the last 15 years, they were riding buddies often riding their motorcycles hundreds of miles to Indiana and New Mexico and everywhere in between.

“Lots of fun adventures,” Acklin said. “We had lots of fun adventures. One that comes to mind is when we rode to Arkansas last year with a couple of other guys. The riding was good, but the evenings around the campfire were just as memorable–great food, cold beer, and good friends recounting the day’s ride–good stuff.”


Acklin said Landers was a funny guy and a lot of fun to be around, however, he also had a serious side.


“We had lots of conversations over the years that were sober and philosophical. I shall greatly miss those conversations,” Acklin said.

On Tuesday, the St. Joseph Village Board is expected to vote to place an honorary street sign on the corner of Aspen Court and Locust Drive to honor Landers.

Before his death, Landers acquired K9 Winston, a UIPD therapy dog. Before his death, the pair traveled to Chicago to provide comfort to members of the Chicago Police Department following the line-of-duty death of Chicago Police Officer Ella French.

Landers and K9 Winston visited the Champaign Police Department several times earlier this year following the line-of-duty death of Champaign Police Officer Chris Oberheim.

“What he did went beyond traditional police work,” Cary said. “He was interested in the total well-being of the people he helped, in terms of their mental wellness and making sure they had to resources they need to be successful. He also cared deeply about his coworkers and other law enforcement officers. He wanted to make sure that they had the support they needed both in their professional and personal lives.”

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