Veteran IMPD officer’s small trip to school makes huge impact in student’s life

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – IMPD Officer Samone Willis grew up in a community where people didn’t trust law enforcement.

"I didn’t have a negative feeling. I didn’t have a positive feeling. It was just we saw on TV and what we heard. It was like police; whatever," Officer Samone Willis said.

So in 1998, when Officer Robert Henderson walked into her 5th grade class, she was stunned. He looked like her. She had never seen a black officer.

"The very first day I ran home and I told my mom you will never guess what happened. You will never guess what we did today. She was like what? I’m like there’s a black officer in my class and she was like oh okay," Officer Willis said.

Officer Robert Henderson was a part of the “G.R.E.A.T.” program. The program stands for gang, resistance, education, and training.

Officer Henderson spoke with students at various schools teaching them life lessons from his own experiences – truthful, relatable, effective information.

"When I say effective that it would be life-changing, something they would be able to use later on in their life," Officer Robert Henderson said.

Officer Henderson didn’t realize how the small encounter could change someone’s life.

"It just made me realize the importance of planting the seed with someone, watching that seed germinate and grow. Now that same seed is sewing fruit," Officer Henderson said.

Officer Willis keeps a picture of her and Officer Henderson in her police car. The picture is a daily reminder of why she protects and serves the Indianapolis community.

"I’ll just pull down my visor and I’m like remember your purpose, remember your reason, and remember your why," Officer Willis said.

"I didn’t know she kept it in her car that’s the first I heard. That’s awesome. That’s inspiration for her to do what she does," Officer Henderson said.

Officer Willis is now a part of the Community Resource Unit for the East District. She now gives back to the youth in the community.

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