It was a dark, rainy morning. The worst rendition of the Star Spangled Banner was being sung in the background. The outline of the person in front could not even be seen in the dark forest.
“This is going to be so much fun. If every race was 60 degrees and sunny it would be boring,” thought English teacher Kay Meyer.
“This would be the perfect situation for someone to kidnap me,” her running partner thought.
Her running partner was Sergeant Linda Hooten of the Huntley Police Department. It was one leg of 50 for their challenge to run a half-marathon in every state.
So far both, have run in more than 20 states.
Hooten, a 10 year veteran ofthe Huntley Police Department, has worked in multiple capacities, serving as a patrol officer, school resource officer and now the sergeant in charge of investigations.
She also started and manages the domestic violence program which has been extremely successful in the village.
“They called me at 11 in the [morning] and needed to know by 3 o’clock. I ran into my chief’s office and said ‘They want me to go,’” said Hooten.
They were the Federal Bureau of Investigation and were calling about her acceptance to the FBI academy, a 10 week “college” experience for law enforcement officials. She spent a majority of the summer exercising, sitting through classes and completing scenarios in Quantico, Va. She spent weekends touring Washington D.C. and New York City.
“They treated us like royalty,” said Hooten.
She learned how to handle shootings, human behavior traits and various other skills for law enforcement.
Huntley Police Chief John Perkins was proud to send another officer from Huntley to the FBI academy. Hooten is the third from the department to go since 2005.
“The number one [thing they learn] is probably their networking skills. If we need something from another department, chances are our graduates know someone there,” said Perkins.
There was also the Yellow Brick Road, the final challenge in the many fitness tests.
The Yellow Brick Road is a rigorous course built by the Marines. Hooten had to run 6.1 miles through hilly and wooded trails where she climbed over walls, jumped through windows, scaled rocks, crawled under barbed wire and maneuvered across a cargo net. She received a yellow brick to commemorate the run.
Labor Day weekend a few weeks before the race Meyer flew to Washington D.C. where the two trained at Virginia Beach.
“We had seafood, and then we went to run,” said Meyer. “But more importantly [we thought] where is the best food?”
Meyer met Hooten at a party for teachers at the end of the school year about eight years ago. They learned they have many similar interests like running and biking. Since that point they have had hundreds of adventures, enough for Meyer to write a book about, but more importantly a great friend to lean on.
“She is probably one of the greatest people I know. She is kind. She is fun and she is up for anything,” said Meyer.
Not only is she up for anything, but she is dedicated to getting things done. With her domestic violence program, she has implemented steps to make sure victims of domestic abuse get the resources and support they need. This year the Village of Huntley is down 30 percent in domestic crimes as of October.
“She is doing an outstanding job with [domestic abuse], I think we are on the cutting edge with domestics. We have had some bad things over the years,” said Perkins
Between her commitment to serving and protecting the residents of Huntley, her passion for running and her joyful spirit both her friends and colleagues all think highly of her.
Perkins believes Hooten is a true role model and should be seen as one who has a passion of being healthy and motivated.
“I think Linda is a very intelligent person,” said Perkins. “Linda isn’t satisfied with just getting things done and that shows in her work.”
Even though her job may be difficult at times, it is a rewarding job. And she says, with a smile on her face, that she still looks forward to coming to work every single day.