MATTOON -- Patrol Officer Alex Hesse has received the 2017 Chaplain’s Excellence Award for the good character he has demonstrated on and off the job.
Hesse has worked for more than two years with the Mattoon Police Department in his hometown and he has volunteered alongside his wife, Amber, for five-and-a-half years as a youth group leader at Mattoon First Baptist Church.
Brad Brown, who is the volunteer chaplain for the Mattoon Police Department, said Hesse’s community service as a youth group leader caught his attention and led to him presenting the award to this patrol officer.
“Being a pastor, I know the time and commitment that takes,” Brown said of Hesse’s youth group service. “It takes a special person to do that.”
Brown said Hesse and his wife set aside time to hold youth group meetings in the evening, take the young people on field trips, and volunteer with them in the community. For example, he said, the First Baptist youths regularly help out at the Mattoon Community Food Center.
The Chaplain’s Excellence Award was presented to Hesse on June 1 during a banquet at which Officer Ryan Koop received the 2017 officer of the year award. Hesse said he was humbled by the award, adding that he and his wife don’t seek recognition for their community service.
“We do it because we care and it’s what we want to do,” Hesse said. Still, Hesse said the award has helped them feel like they are having a positive impact in the community.
Hesse said he and his wife grew up at First Baptist. He said the youth group leader, Jeff Fathauer, from their teen years had a positive impact on them. He said this experience inspired them to volunteer as youth group leaders in their church as a way of giving back.
“We like the kids. They are a blast. They keep you on your toes,” Hesse said, adding that he and his wife enjoy seeing the youths grow in their faith and their maturity over the years.
When selecting the Chaplain’s Excellence Award winner, Brown said he also considered the code of ethics that Hesse follows and the compassion that he displays on the job with the police department.
Prior to joining the Mattoon department, Hesse served as a deputy with the Coles County Sheriff’s Office. Mattoon police Chief Jeff Branson said Hesse demonstrated good people skills with the sheriff’s office and continues to do so with the police department.
“He is a genuine person who really cares. His people skills are outstanding,” Branson said. “I feel like he is a true servant to the public.”
Branson said Hesse, who also serves on the crisis response team tactical unit, has earned the respect of his fellow officers with his reliability and good character. He said Hesse is known for remaining calm and collected while dealing with irate people during traffic stops and other situations.
Hesse said he always tries to treat everyone with respect, which helps him to get the job at hand done. Hesse said he often deals with people who are having a “bad day,” so he strives to not make this day worse for them.
“Me having a bad day is not going to make the situation go any smoother,” Hesse said.