Officer Kayhla Hendren, who returned to duty about two-and-a-half years ago after suffering serious injuries when she was hit by a car, has been promoted to corporal, making her the Bel Air Police Department’s first female supervisor.
Hendren, who has been with the Bel Air Police for 12 years, was sworn in during the town commissioners’ meeting Monday evening. The promotion happened Jan. 25.
In an interview Tuesday, Hendren noted that the news she is the police department’s first female supervisor was initially a surprise since she has worked with other female officers in Bel Air — whom she considers “strong role models” — but they had not been promoted.
Hendren, 36, will be a road supervisor for officers in the field. She described her role as corporal as a “first-line supervisor,” answering officers’ questions, ensuring they are handling situations according to department protocol and filing documents in a timely fashion.
She said officers who work in the field still have a lot of administrative work that needs to be completed properly, such as filing reports, entering data and submitting evidence.
“I had some good supervisors in the past, and I’m trying to follow in their shoes,” Hendren said. “I’ve been very blessed in that way.”
Hendren said that “being fair is my biggest thing” in how she approaches police work. She tries to treat each situation differently and understand that experiences are different for each person.
“Since I became a police officer, that’s how I treat every situation, [I] try to treat everybody with respect, treat everybody fairly,” she said.
Hendren said she plans to bring the same approach to the supervisory level.
She became an acting corporal several months ago, succeeding a former corporal who retired, and her promotion became official in January.
The news release from the department states that Hendren’s “informal leadership style is without question the example for other officers to emulate.”
“She has developed a reputation of never surrendering to adversity,” the release continues. “The Town of Bel Air is proud to celebrate the well-deserved promotion of Corporal Kayhla M. Hendren.”
Hendren grew up in Baltimore City — her father served with the Baltimore City Police Department, and her uncle was a Maryland State Police trooper.
She started her law enforcement career with the Baltimore Police in 2004, and she joined the Bel Air Police Department in 2007, according to the news release.
“The smaller departments are more like a family,” Hendren said.
The news release also indicates Hendren had “distinguished herself as an exceptional investigator,” and she has helped bring about convictions in a number of “complex cases,” some of them spanning different jurisdictions.
Hendren said Tuesday that she could not discuss cases that are still being tried or are in the appeals process. She did talk about one case from about a decade ago, when she worked with colleagues in the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, the Maryland State Police and in New Jersey to solve a series of thefts of Sony PlayStation video game consoles.
Three people were arrested and all were successfully prosecuted, she said.
The investigation required extensive coordination with fellow investigators in different agencies and inquiries to stores in multiple locations where thefts had happened.
“The biggest thing is, just going to speak to people and calling them on the phone, just keep getting information and following the leads,” Hendren said.
Accident and recovery
Hendren was directing traffic near the scene of a minor residential fire that happened in the 100 block of Nichols Street on Nov. 20, 2013. She was a few blocks away at the intersection of West Broadway and Williams Street when she was run over by a Volkswagen Passat.
She had to be airlifted to the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore. Hendren suffered multiple injuries and her police sidearm was “shattered.” She returned to active duty in late August of 2016, despite determinations by doctors that she would never be able to return to work.
Hendren said Tuesday that her injuries do not hinder her on the job, although “I feel them occasionally, especially in the winter.” They do not affect her to the point where they stop her from working, however.
She recalled taking part in a foot chase in Bel Air last summer, a pursuit that involved Bel Air Police as well as sheriff’s deputies and state troopers. Hendren and her fellow law enforcement officers caught several suspects. She said that “nothing hurt afterward.”
“Hard work pays off, that’s it; you give everything you have,” Hendren said. “That’s what I instill in my kids, to give everything 110 percent.”
Hendren attended the commissioners’ meeting Monday with her husband, Ezra, 8-year-old daughter McKayhla, 5-year-old son, Joseph, mother-in-law DiAnne Ross, her aunt and uncle, plus her friend, Sandi Easton and Easton’s four children.
Sandi Easton is the wife of former Aberdeen Police Department Officer Jason Easton. Jason Easton was injured in the line of duty in 2015 when a suspect ambushed him and shot him in the face.
Jason Easton was declared legally blind in one eye, and he could not return to patrol duty with the Aberdeen Police. He began working as a security clerk with the Sheriff’s Office in late 2017.
Hendren said her family and the Easton family supported each other through both officers’ recovery.
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“That’s the biggest thing, supporting each other,” Hendren said.