ALBANY, Ill. — The city of Albany is home to a TikTok star and internet sensation.
No, it is not a teenager showing off dancing moves; instead, it’s the city’s top cop.
Chief Wyatt Heyvaert got onto the popular app – when the pandemic first began – to make videos with his daughter. The two have done videos together over the months, and in his downtime, he creates videos by himself.
Heyvaert said one day last week he thought about his brothers and sisters in blue, and he decided to pay respect to the fallen and inspire fellow officers by reading a poem.
“The main basis of it was to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” Heyvaert said. “(The poem) is called “Sign Along a Road” and it basically talks about the road signs along the highway and interstates that have the name of the fallen trooper or fallen police officer, to signify that piece of roadway or bridge would be dedicated in their honor.”
Since Heyvaert posted the video a week or so ago, it has been viewed nearly 400,000 times on Facebook. He said the responses have been overwhelmingly positive because there is a lot of support for law enforcement. He said the poem, written by Bob Welch, also inspires officers to wear their badges proudly.
“It also encourages positivity,” Heyvaert said. “And it encourages officers to continue to put their uniforms on with pride and to serve with integrity.”
Heyvaert said his reasoning for the post was based on research he was doing. The chief said every day he tries to grow as a person by looking up different things. One area he said he is continuing to work on is public speaking. Heyvaert said despite being a small-town police chief, he tries to be a voice in the law enforcement community.
“We can be a voice for our profession. I try to be a positive voice for our profession,” Heyvaert said. “I came across Bob Welch, and it was something I shared at the Quad-Cities’ law enforcement memorial in 2019. I thought it was very uplifting.”
Heyvaert said he understands the climate right now has changed with law enforcement and the general public after the death of George Floyd. He said no one hates bad cops more than the really good ones. He said over the years, he has worked in three different counties and work alongside many different officers and none of them stand by what happened in Minnesota.
“I served with a lot of great police officers,” Heyvaert said. “I don’t know anybody who agreed with what happened in Minneapolis. Unfortunately, it puts a black eye on the law enforcement community as a whole. But there are so many good public servants serving today. And there are so many that do their jobs with pride and serve their communities with pride.”