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Kelsey Hedrick still making a difference one beat at a time

Kelsey Hedrick, who has built his law enforcement career by protecting citizens in both East Liverpool and St. Clair Township, stands outside the township’s police station in Calcutta. (Photo by Stephanie Ujhelyi)

CALCUTTA –If the dictionary had a photograph next to the entry for “community police officer,” no doubt Kelsey Hedrick would be smiling back from the pages.

Hedrick, now a midnight shift officer with St. Clair Township, describes himself as a “typical old school patrolman.”Most folks ouldn’t disagree with his assessment. Through his lengthy law enforcement career in the East Liverpool area, the history buff has witnessed many changes both in civilian and police life as well as how they interact.

A beloved local character, Hedrick explained that he joined the East Liverpool Police Department as a full-time patrolman in 1998. He attributes his recruitment to then-city Safety Service Director Rudy Frank (father of Judge Dominic Frank), who thought Hedrick would make a great police officer.

Hedrick recalled, “I had been in charge of the Riverfest entertainment (which was highlighted by mud volleyball and the anything-that-floats race in the Ohio River). I had passed the police test in Dallas, (while living there), and they had wanted me to go to school. I couldn’t, because I needed to work as I had a son.”

Before making the leap to law enforcement, Hedrick worked in a variety of fields.

In addition to being employed as a skip tracer for Curtis Mathis furniture (think of it as a bounty hunter for rented appliances), he had stints: working full-time for the Ferro porcelain plant; selling life insurance for Southern Western Life; managing Appliance Parts Center; and dispatching part-time for the East Liverpool Police Department.

After completing the police academy, Hedrick joined city police full time as a beat cop, later serving as on the Columbiana County Drug Task Force and as a department defensive tactics instructor before becoming a school resource officer for East Liverpool City School District through October 2018.

He remembered his years with East Liverpool mostly with fondness.

Hedrick –with the cops that he grew up alongside –are a different breed. “The last generation of true police officers.,” as he defined them.

Yes, Compassion and education are perhaps the most valuable traits that a good police officer possesses, even though it is not at the expense of good sense. “Crime isn’t gentle; it is a fine line to walk. All a police officer has his integrity,” Hedrick added.

In his civilian life, which he shares wife Angel, five grown children and eight grandchildren, Hedrick continues to oversee Thompson Park’s disc golf effort; the East Liverpool Police Museum, which is housed in the former city jail; enjoy performing magic, his VWs and having fun. He also was recently elected president of the township’s police union (Fraternal Order of Police’s 210).

No worries, though. Hedrick has no plans to retire from law enforcement.

“You have to be a special person to want to be a police officer especially today. There is a slideshow that happens in your head, when you put on the uniform,” he said. “(For example, I CPRed a baby until an ambulance arrived while with East Liverpool. I never will forget the touch of that baby’s lips on mine. That feeling doesn’t just go away. You never forget a single one of those calls, and not everyone is cut out to do the job.”

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