hometown hero

Video: Bringing all the tools to today's youth

Griffin honored as Hometown Hero in Emergency Responder category

Posted 7/7/22

Peoria Police Officer Beth Griffin keeps her tool belt well stocked.

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hometown hero

Video: Bringing all the tools to today's youth

Griffin honored as Hometown Hero in Emergency Responder category


Peoria Police Officer Beth Griffin keeps her tool belt well stocked.

She picks up new tools in each of her endeavors and continues her journey always ready to make more room on her belt.

As far as careers go, she started out as an elementary school teacher and then moved into public safety, working patrol and then as a Special Victims Unit detective for the Peoria Police Department where she has been for about 15 years.

She has also dedicated much of her life to the craft of dancing.

Possibly Griffin’s most recently fully realized position with the department has been the last four school years as a School Resource Officer at Sunrise Mountain High School, where she wore all kinds of different hats — even using her experience as a dancer — and in the process affected the lives of many students.

Mayor Cathy Carlat said students at Sunrise Mountain have been positively impacted by the actions of Griffin, sending a message that police officers are an instrumental and valuable part of the community, and that the School Resource Officer program helps kids to see that value during the critically formative high school years.

“In this time of negative attention on police, Officer Griffin’s actions have accentuated the connections police officers make and the positive impacts they have on the people in their community,” Carlat said.

For her work as an SRO for Sunrise Mountain High School, Griffin has been named the Peoria Independent Hometown Hero in the Emergency Responder category.

The Hometown Heroes Awards are a celebration of individuals who live or teach in the city, and Peoria businesses for their local achievements and distinguished contributions to the community.

Griffin will be honored at an awards luncheon next year.

In partnership with the city of Peoria, she also will be interviewed by the city and aired on Channel 11.

As tools go, sometimes you need to take your new ones and use them where they may be needed more — the police department recently assigned Griffin to the domestic violence unit. But she said her work as an SRO will continue to serve her moving forward.

A normal day for her as a SRO could cover a lot of ground, with no two days alike, she said.

“In the span of an hour I could go from being a police officer to assisting administration, to mentoring, to counseling a kid, to directing traffic, to receiving questions from neighboring elementary schools, to investigating criminal activity,” she said. “My job was being a resource for staff and the kids and just being active on campus so students see you and you are approachable.”

Officer Griffin wanted to be a police officer since 6th grade when the DARE program came to her school. She later went on to get a masters in education but eventually pursued her dream and went into public safety where the culmination of her skills blossomed.

In a statement sent to Peoria Independent, the counseling team at Sunrise Mountain said Officer Griffin played three major roles at the school: protect, educate and counsel.

This included a wide range of duties such as teaching in the classroom. Officer Griffin received national attention when she became a cast member of Sunrise Mountain’s musical production of “Newsies,” last March.

Helping in the classroom was an important contribution, especially during the pandemic, when many were filling in for absent teachers.

“She went into freshman English, the COOP classroom to read to our preschoolers, the driver ed class, psychology/sociology, government, too many to name,” the team stated. “If a teacher asked, she would go! On top of teaching in many classrooms, she participated in many classes, most notably theater and dance. Again, if she was asked, she participated.”

Officer Griffin also spent a lot of her time counseling students, and went out of her way to talk to as many students as possible.

The counseling team said Officer Griffin made every student feel heard and welcomed.

“Students would ask to see Officer Griffin and they would walk and talk, or simply sit in her office for advice. Having an officer on campus was an asset for staff also as we many times went to her for advice on how to handle situations,” the counseling team stated. “Everywhere she walked on campus she was always vigilant and alert. Officer Griffin was very aware that her job was to help; always keeping students and staff safe including during lunch and major events. We knew Officer Griffin always had our backs.”

Learn more about Officer Griffin here.

Philip Haldiman can be reached at phaldiman@iniusa.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.