The Ogle County Sheriff’s Department said farewell to one of its finest deputy sheriffs who served the community for nearly 30 years.
Cheri Brodzik had been an Ogle County deputy sheriff since 1990, and she held multiple titles throughout her career with the department. As she approached her 30th year on the force, she recently made the emotional decision to retire.
“I have really enjoyed being a police officer for 30 years and at the school for the last two, but it just seemed like good timing for me,” Brodzik said. “It is bittersweet for sure, I am going to miss all of my students, teachers and staff at the high school and the group of guys that I work with on the force.”
Brodzik said she knew from a young age she wanted to become a police officer and help other people. She was hit by a car when she was 8 years old, and it was the police officer who responded to help her who inspired her to become a police officer herself.
“I was crossing the street with my brother and I got hit by a car,” Brodzik said. “The officer that showed up to help me was Jack Wells and I was just in awe of him. He stayed with me in the ambulance and came to see me in the hospital. That’s when I decided I wanted to become a police officer and help people like that.”
Brodzik graduated from Rochelle Township High School in 1985 and went to Kishwaukee College to begin her journey toward becoming a police officer. She graduated from Kishwaukee College and received her associate’s degree in criminal justice in 1987.
She then started her first law enforcement position at the Ogle County Sheriff’s Department in 1990. During her time at the department, she held many different positions and achieved many accomplishments. She worked as a juvenile officer before becoming a D.A.R.E. officer in all the county schools for 13 years.
Additionally, she served as court security at the Ogle County courthouse and was the school resource officer at Rochelle Township High School for the last two years before her retirement.
Out of her many accomplishments in her 30 years of service, one of her most memorable was returning to Kishwaukee College to teach students enrolled in the criminal justice program.
“I was an adjunct instructor at Kishwaukee College, meaning I was a career person out in the field that would teach the criminal justice classes as well,” Brodzik said. “I love to teach, so going back to the community college that I learned at to teach was very special.”
Fellow officers have said Brodzik was a model deputy sheriff with exceptionally good communication skills. Mel Messer, former Ogle County sheriff of 16 years, personally worked with Brodzik during his time at the department. He saw what a great officer she was and thanks her for her years of service.
“She had a good capability of communicating with people, especially working well with young people,” Messer said. “It’s hard to get people that can communicate with the public and get the job done well like she could. I wish her good luck and a good retirement.”
Brodzik has plans to relax and spend time with her family, including her new grandson, during her retirement. While there have been many challenges along the way, she said trying to separate her line of work from being a mother at home was most challenging.
“I saw some pretty horrific things in my career,” said Brodzik. “Then, to have to come home, shift gears and leave everything back at work, that was my biggest struggle.”
Brodzik left a mark at the sheriff’s department that will be remembered long after her retirement. Current Ogle County Sheriff Brian VanVickle knows it will be hard to find an officer like her and hopes that new deputies have learned a thing or two from her.
“When a long-term employee retires, it’s hard to fill those shoes with that knowledge you lose when they walk out the door,” VanVickle said. “We continue to have the senior officers share that knowledge and experience to our newer officers.”