Chesterfield Township resident and former New Baltimore police cadet Jessica Beels is slated to become the state's youngest police chief Tuesday night.
As 26-year-old Beels is sworn in as Memphis' top cop, she will take the state's youngest police chief title away from New Baltimore police Chief Tim Wiley, he said. Wiley, 33, held the title when he became chief in the lakeside city last year at age 32.
"I feel proud," Wiley said. "I'm happy for her. She stole my title but, only for her, it's OK."
Beels' history with the New Baltimore Police Department dates back to 2002 when she rode along with a rookie cop for a student assignment.
"My first ride-along in college was with Tim Wiley," she recalled of the current chief who was also New Baltimore's first police cadet 13 years ago.
A Childhood Dream
Ever since teachers asked Beels as a child at Immaculate Conception School what she wanted to be when she grew up, she had one career in mind.
"It's something I've always wanted to do even in grade school," she said.
Her late mother was a nurse and father is a retired General Motors Co. engineer, so the concept of police work was not inherited. Rather, it was a curiosity she nourished early on by majoring in law enforcement at Macomb Community College following graduation at L'Anse Creuse High School Central in Harrison Township.
From there, Beels worked as a New Baltimore police cadet and records clerk between 2004 and 2007, eventually graduating from the police academy in Macomb County in May 2007.
Learning the Ropes
Since then, she's worked as a part-time police officer in the approximate 1,200-population town of Memphis stretching across Macomb and St. Clair counties and as a part-time officer for the Marine City Police Department. To earn money on the side, she's been working at VG's Grocery in Sterling Heights, a gig that will end soon when she takes on the full-time police job. She is also working on a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from Madonna University.
When the former Memphis police chief Elena Danishevskaya left the post for another job in the Village of Holly, Beels took over the department as Officer in Charge. The position essentially was a lower-paying interim chief job.
When the full-time, permanent chief position was posted, she said the community encouraged her to apply.
"I had so many residents and even employees of the city ask why I didn't put in for it."
Becoming Top Cop
As acting chief, she will continue working road patrol, handle administrative duties and oversee four part-time officers, with a couple more officers possibly joining in the near future, she said.
She also hopes to form great relationships with other city departments.
"Since we are so small, we really do need to work together."
A swear-in ceremony is scheduled at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Memphis City Hall.