Susan Herring Resteau has seen a lot of sad things in her 46 years.
In nine years at the county welfare office, working in protective services,
child welfare and food stamp fraud investigations, and 16 years at the Porter
County Sheriff's Department, Resteau likely has seen and heard all the stories.
Yet the one group of people she hopes most to help are the children.
"It's kind of a quest of mine when I get a kid in here to maybe say something
or work with that kid to turn that kid around, That's the benefit that I get. I
have some success cases and I've had some failures," says Resteau, Porter
County's first female officer who one day plans to be the county's first female
She's not the stiff, hard-nosed officer many would expect. Resteau, with her
easy smile and laid-back style, could be anybody's best friend. She wants
people to think she's a good officer, that she is fair with everyone.
Her early influences show. From her grandfather, Stephen Dufallo, she got a
love of all things mechanical. From her mother, Annette, she got patience and a
gift of gab, something she says she uses to talk herself out of difficult
Resteau is most proud of her work in uncovering the occult. Her interest in the
occult began during the eight years she was a road officer and began noticing
signs. Now, she is a recognized expert, instructing other officers and fielding
calls from other departments all over the state seeking her knowledge.
She says the interest in law enforcement began while she was still in the
welfare department. She remembers asking one branch of law enforcement -- she
won't name it -- how she could get involved. The answer: "We don't have women."
That upset her.
But in 1983, then Sheriff Timothy McCarthy took the risk, she says. She's been
in the detective bureau since 1991.
"A goal of mine ... is to be the very best I could be. I took on a lot of
different activities because I'm not an idle person, I can't sit around."
And active she has been.
Outside her 12-hour workdays, Resteau is involved in the Special Olympics;
spent two years as president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge; sits
on the camp board for the Sheriff's Association, working as a counselor and
instructor at the annual statewide camp; helps with the Chiefs of Police camp
at Valparaiso University; works with McGruff the crime dog; and is involved in
Project Lead where she tells fifth-graders about being a police officer.
She's involved with the local Child Abuse Prevention Council, The Caring Place
and many other boards.
She has made a real commitment to wildlife, taking in orphaned animals and
helping rehabilitate many Canada geese.
Resteau says she is driven by the love of people.
"I really like doing something for where I live and who I work with."
Resteau's influence hasn't gone unrecognized.
In 1996, she was awarded the state's Distinguished Hoosier award and also
received the Indiana Sheriff's Association's Robert S. Kelley Memorial Award
for being the county police office of the year -- the first time a female had
ever received the statewide award.
It also was the year she married Robert Herring, also a detective in the
"I would hope that I would have a positive influence with our youth. I've had
some really good cases that have turned around and I made a positive effort in
that kid's life," she says.