GREENFIELD — Jill Hatke just started her job at the Greenfield Police Department, but she’s a familiar face to many of her new coworkers.
Hatke, 30, of Noblesville, was already acquainted with a number of Greenfield officers when she put in her application to become the department’s newest patrol officer.
Hatke had met several local officers, including Greenfield Police Chief John Jester, while working police patrols at Klipsch Music Center.
“We were talking about her applying,” Jester said. “Lo and behold, we had an opening, and she applied.”
Hatke, formerly a jail officer and reserve police officer in Hamilton County, replaces Rachel Runyon, a newly hired officer who left the department for personal reasons after just a few months on the job.
Hatke was brought in during an accelerated hiring process, Jester said, noting just a handful of applications were taken, mostly from officer recommendations.
“We’ve been down on manpower for so long, and I wanted to get somebody hired,” Jester said.
Hatke, who graduated in 2006 from Indiana State University with a major in criminology and minor in psychology, said she has always been interested in police work.
“I like not knowing what’s going to happen next and the interaction with the community, whether it’s good or bad,” she said. “And I really like Greenfield, their officers.”
Jester estimated about 15 members of the department work part-time helping out with security at the popular concert venue, so Hatke already has plenty of friends.
Working with Hatke at Klipsch gave officers a chance not only to get to know Hatke’s personality but to see her skills in action.
“It gave us a chance to see how she worked, how she dealt with people sometimes in the not-best of circumstances,” Jester said.
Hatke, who grew up near Crawfordsville, currently lives in Noblesville but said she is planning to move to the county.
After seven years as a jail officer, she is looking forward to patrolling, full time.
“The jail was pretty much just a stepping stone to get some experience to make sure I liked what I was gonna be dealing with,” she said. “It’s not for everyone.”
Having spent two years as a reserve officer in Cicero, Hatke comes to the job with valuable experience, Jester added.
Hatke has already gone though a 40-hour training course and received instruction in firearms, Tasers, field-sobriety testing and more.
“As soon as we get her uniforms in, we can start her (field-training) period,” Jester said.
While Hatke’s experience has been in Hamilton County, her transition to working here should be a smooth one, Jester said.
“Police work is police work,” he said.
Field-training lasts a minimum of 15 weeks. Hatke will also be required to attend 16 weeks of intensive training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield.
Hatke is the second female police officer to be hired at GPD in recent months. She joins Patrol Officer Jordan Lewis, who was hired earlier this year, and Detective Nichole Gilbert, who joined the department in 2009.
“We don’t always deal with men on the street,” Capt. Joe Munden said. “When the officer pool is diversified, it helps.”