“You see me in uniform with a badge on my chest, but I'm a person,” said Campus Police Officer Lauren Yeakle. “I have emotions. I cry. I bleed. Everything you do, I do too.”
New to Taylor’s police department, Yeakle wants faculty and staff to know that her job as a police officer not only means protecting, but also being present to receive those who are hurting with open arms.
“I'm here to talk to you and help you,” Yeakle said. “I don't want you to ever be afraid to reach out. So with an open door and open arms, I will help you as much as I possibly can.”
Yeakle’s desire to help others began from when she was young. In high school, she knew she wanted to help those around her through her future career. At first, she considered nursing. Yet deep down, Yeakle knew she wanted to go into law enforcement.
After serving in the military, getting married and becoming a mom, the desire to become a police officer resurfaced.
“And then after (having) my daughter, it really kicked in,” Yeakle said. “It was something I wanted to do. I was tired of thinking about it.”
After her daughter’s first birthday, Yeakle began training to become an officer. Over the course of four months, she went through the phases of training at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in Plainfield, Indiana.
Yeakle learned the ropes to becoming an officer through everything from responding to shootings to listening to people who needed to talk.
“I want to help people in really hard situations,” Yeakle said. “You know, people don't call the police on the best day of their life.”
Helping people when they are at their lowest is both difficult and rewarding for Yeakle.
Before coming to Taylor, she received a call for an intoxicated driver. When Yeakle arrived at the scene, her heart sank when she realized she recognized the person she had to arrest. When the driver saw her, he climbed in the back of the police car without arguing.
As they drove to the police station, he began opening up about his struggle with depression and difficulty coping with hard times. When they got out of the car, Yeakle was able to pray with him. Before removing the hand cuffs, he turned to Yeakle and thanked her.
“So, there are moments — despite the chaos — where people will thank you for helping,” Yeakle said.
Even in her own story, when things seemed to go wrong, God used a closed door to lead Yeakle to the one he opened for her. Before coming to Taylor, Yeakle planned to go into the police academy. However, she missed the test by a single pushup and was not allowed to take the test again.
“I will never forget this: the day they let me go, I told the chief, ‘Thank you for the opportunity. It was great, but this isn't the end for me,’” Yeakle said.
Before leaving the police academy, an officer told her to talk to Jeff Wallace at Taylor University. The same day she was let go, Yeakle drove to Taylor as tears ran down her face. The last thing she wanted was to leave law enforcement.
She spoke to Wallace about her situation. A few months later, Yeakle recognized how it was a blessing in disguise to lose her job, because her daughter got very sick during that summer. At this time, Wallace contacted Yeakle saying Taylor was praying for her and encouraged her to reach out when she was ready.
A month later, Yeakle interviewed with Wallace and received the position at Taylor’s police department.
“I feel like I'm right at home,” Yeakle said. “It's kind of a weird crazy story, but I do feel like my place in law enforcement from day one, has been a God thing. It has been God opening a door and saying, ‘Hey I want you here.’”
Even though having a young daughter at home is difficult for Yeakle, she wants her daughter to know that whatever call God places on her life, she can do it, no matter the hurdle.
Yeakle leads by example.
“So, that's how I kind of look at it when I leave to come to work — one day, you're going to face the same challenges and I want you to know that mom went through it and you can too,” Yeakle said.
Yeakle is the woman who wears the badge, who stands for peace and whose heart beats for helping others.