Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

MC Weekly

March 19, 2014

RAY MOSCOWITZ: Stepfather was inspiration for Peru trailblazer

Jonie Kennedy is city's first female chief of police.

She remembers seeing him in his uniform and listening to the scanner while he was working. She wished she could be with him. That was when she was 2 or 3 years old.

He would let her ride with him on Saturday night. A rush of excitement would shoot through her. That was when she was a teenager.

From then on, she knew her destiny was to serve and protect — just like him.

He is her stepdad, James Catron, now retired after 25 years on the Kokomo Police Department.

She is Jonie Kennedy, 46, the first woman to serve as Peru’s chief of police.

Jonie and her sister, Jodi, 49, were raised by Catron and their mother, Sharon, after Sharon and Russell Walters were divorced. Jonie and Jodi have two stepbrothers and two stepsisters. And Jonie has three children: Kristen Amick, 26, Ashley Amick, 23, and Zak Amick, 20.

“Having the opportunity to be the chief is indeed an honor,” Kennedy said in an email interview. “Most officers, although capable, rarely get the opportunity to serve in this capacity. Being the first female chief of police … recognizes Mayor [Jim] Walker’s ability to be open-minded in selecting the chief based on what positive attributes can be brought to the position regardless of gender.”

Kennedy’s rise to the top began May 31, 1997, when she joined the department. She paid her dues along the way.

Before moving to Peru in 1995, Kennedy worked as a secretary for the Kokomo Police Department. She believes that gave her a better understanding of law enforcement and helped her with police training.

She spent her first six years as a patrol officer. In 2003, she was transferred to the investigations unit for three years before being promoted to administrative sergeant. In September 2011, she was made lieutenant, and in January 2012, she became the assistant chief. The former chief resigned in April 2013, paving the way for Kennedy to make history.

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