Faces of Michiana: Kelly Laesch

Published 2:15 pm Thursday, February 23, 2017

Berrien County Sheriff’s Deputy Kelly Laesch found the perfect job.

She never thought she would wind up in law enforcement, but her desire to help people, especially children, led her to her current role as crime prevention coordinator for the sheriff’s department.

“[I like improving] how [children] see [police] and perceive us. I want them to do good,” Laesch said. “Being a good role model and modeling that behavior is something I’ve always done.”

Laesch, a resident of Buchanan, has been in law enforcement for more than a dozen years. She has patrolled roads and worked in the narcotics division and at the jail. When a hole opened up to work in crime prevention, she snapped it up. Helping to build a relationship with the community she loves is icing on the cake.

“I’ve been fortunate to have 17 years of a great career so far,” she said. “I enjoy it, I love it. I wouldn’t change it.”

More than anything, she wants people in the community to feel safe, and to be comfortable coming to her with questions about the law. Sitting next to her listening to her talk excitedly about the community, it is impossible to glaze over why she is successful.

“I’m a people person,” she said. “I think the biggest thing with [my job], and helping people … [is that] I don’t like people being fearful. I don’t want them to be scared.”

She believes that her job, just like her life, is about following the Golden Rule, which she says is especially important when you work in your hometown.

“I think the biggest thing with [being a sheriff in your hometown] is to treat people how you would want to be treated,” she said. “People make mistakes; they know what they’ve done. You’re not going to sit there and do something for them that you can’t, You can only do what you can do.”

As a citizen, it is easy to forget that an officer is not always on duty and that they have lives out of uniform. But Laesch likes to enjoy the treasures that southwest Michigan has to offer, just like anyone else.

“I like antiquing a lot. It’s a family thing,” she said. “Sometimes in the summer we go and do antiquing. [I] love camping, love being outside!”

One of her new favorite places, though, is a cozy shop up the road in downtown Buchanan.

“We [recently] did our Coffee with Cops at the Union Coffee House in Buchanan,” she said, smiling. “Oh. My. Gosh. I’m, like addicted to their coffee.”

Kelly feels like there is still a lot of work to do to bridge the gap between police officers and everyday folks. But one thing she would like to see more of is cities around Michiana sprinkling in more opportunities for teens.

“Buchanan had the teen center, but no longer. I think they have the building, but I don’t know where [the program] is at,” she said. “[We need] just something for kids. There’s nothing for kids to do [in their free time].”