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Northwestern University
Chelsea Brownleft

Making It Matter: Chelsea Brown '02

Born and raised in Evanston, Brown aspired to a career with the FBI. After doing some ride-alongs with the Chicago Police Department, she found herself drawn to local policing instead. Now an eight-year veteran of the Evanston Police Department, Brown is currently assigned to the Juvenile Investigations Bureau.

Policing really is one of the most interesting jobs in the world. You get to experience reality in a way most people either don't want to or never get to. But if you make a difference in one person's life, you've done something important. Every once in a while someone writes a letter saying, "Thanks for being compassionate during my sister's death investigation," or "Thanks for helping my son." People write to say that you've made a positive impact at a very negative point in their lives. I save all those notes.

Sometimes you can give people a break, a second chance. Charging someone with a misdemeanor instead of a felony can change the direction of that person's life. Or someone comes up to you in court and says, "Thanks for putting me on the right path, even though you arrested me." That's what you're out there to do -- to protect the community, but also to be understanding and compassionate and know that even though you're seeing people at their worst, they're still human beings.

Part of my job is training recruits, and it's one of my favorite things to do. I tell them all the time, "The day you stop caring is the day you should quit. You cannot be an effective police officer if you don't care, because that will make all the difference in your life and in someone else's life."

Making It Matter: Seven Perspectives

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