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Featured today in Part 7 of “Called to Serve,” a weekly N-G series in which law-enforcement officers share stories about their journey to the job with Editor Jeff D’Alessio: Danville native and Champaign Police Officer DEVON WATKINS.

Know someone you'd like us to reach out to for an upcoming edition of Called to Serve? We take requests at jdalessio@news-gazette.com.

Devon Watkins with pups

Champaign police Officer Devon Watkins with her two rescue pups.

'I am still right where I should be, and could not imagine having any other career'

By DEVON WATKINS

I was in kindergarten when becoming a police officer became my dream career. The realization came when the elementary school I attended had a K-9 demonstration from the local police department.

Anyone who knows me knows I love dogs, so what better career than one that you can work alongside one, right?

When I got to my grandmother’s house after school that day, I let her know what my plans were when I grew up. Little did I know this childhood dream would stay with me, and even be what kept me focused through the hardest times of my life.

Devon Watkins with nephew

Devon Watkins with her excited nephew after he saw her in uniform for the first time.

When I was a sophomore in high school, my dad’s drug addiction progressed from prescription drugs to illegal drugs. My mom and myself left, and found ourselves living in a women’s shelter for several months.

My mom began attempting to mend her relationship with my father, and unfortunately that meant she began using illegal drugs as well. I found myself living with family for a short time, with friends and then with my second family.

During this time, I thrived on making sure I would excel in everything I did because I knew I had one job, and that was to make it.

So, I got the grades, I got the scholarships, I joined the clubs and I played the sports. I chose to make my life better not just for me, but for the children that would be going through the same thing as me.

Devon Watkins and husband

Champaign police Officer Devon Watkins with husband Nathan.

I wanted to be able to make myself an example. Though I am not a K9 officer, I am still right where I should be, and could not imagine having any other career.

I know, though, I would not be where I am today if it were not for the wonderful people in my life who supported me through the toughest times.

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