Loved ones and law enforcement colleagues Wednesday remembered Wheeling police officer Shamekia Goodwin-Badger as a woman who was both a pillar of dedication and reliability while on an assignment and a source of kindness and joy all the time.
"She loved to laugh," Wheeling police Sgt. Paul Hardt said during a memorial service for the 33-year-old officer and single mother. "I always knew when Shamekia was in the building. You could hear her laugh down the hall."
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Goodwin-Badger was an Army veteran of deployments in Kuwait and Iraq who joined the Wheeling Police Department in 2008 after being laid off due to budget cuts in Hawthorn Woods.
She died Saturday after collapsing last Thursday night from complications caused by a blood clot in her lung.
Wheeling Police Chief William Benson recalled first meeting her at a benefit car wash in Hawthorn Woods. He said he instantly recognized that this was an officer who had it all together and would be a boon to any department.
So when he learned of Hawthorn Woods' layoffs, he actively sought her out.
Colleagues said her warm smile and attitude made her a ray of sunshine on the midnight shift. But no discussion about her could go very far without acknowledging the central place her 13-year-old daughter Kendra held in her life.
Goodwin-Badger made it a priority to raise her daughter to be a woman of great character and academic achievement and was justifiably proud of her success.
An aunt from her native Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recalled a time when Goodwin-Badger had to ask her to look after Kendra for a short while. At the same time, she was caring for six other children -- all of whom were failing in school.
But within just a brief period, Kendra's influence -- a reflection of her mother -- turned those six other children into honor roll students.
Family members and friends promised Kendra to see her through the rest of her life's journey her mother had dreamed for her. Goodwin-Badger herself had lost her mother while she was only 13 years old.
The late officer's fearlessness was remembered as well as her sense of joy. During one call in which a man armed with a samurai sword had barricaded himself in his bedroom, Goodwin-Badger instantly volunteered for the job of standing closest to the man while holding up a shield to protect other officers during the negotiation.
Though tears were shed throughout the service -- attended by police officers from throughout the suburbs and the state -- attendees became most emotional at the very end.
From a radio inside Goodwin-Badger's open casket, a police dispatcher requested radio silence, called three times for "Unit 160" and reported that "Unit 160 does not respond."
Then the dispatcher called on "Officer Shamekia Goodwin-Badger," thanking her for her service on behalf of the residents of Wheeling.
The police department is accepting donations for Goodwin-Badger's daughter at Wheeling Police Benevolent, 1 Community Blvd., Wheeling IL 60090.