Officer Oberheim’s brother mourns the loss of a sibling and a role model

CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — “He was a big brother. He took us, did things with us. I remember when I was little he would read me books and stuff,” Joe Oberheim said. Joe said he had always looked up to his brother Chris.

“I wanted to be like him. We played a lot of the same sports. I just follow in his footsteps,” Joe said. Following those footsteps has even influenced the direction of Joe’s career. He says Chris is the reason for which he decided to become a policeman.

“He was always telling me Hey, be a police officer and I rolled around with champagne and saw what they did, it influenced me to be a police officer,” Joe said.

It’s a decision Joe’s wife, Chelsea, says she was happy to support. “We had a conversation and it was his dream and so I would never stop him from doing what he wanted to do,” Chelsea said.

Chelsea said she always knew the risks of being an officer, but her fears increased after Chris died.

“When my husband leaves for work I make sure to tell him to be careful and that I love him, but those words carry so much more weight now than before May 19,” Chelsea said.

She said she had always trusted her husband’s training and judgment, but now things are just different. “I realized it didn’t matter because Chris had all those things too. He had so much more experience. He was a wonderful policeman. He had a wonderful way of talking to people and defusing situations as well and it didn’t change anything,” Chelsea said.

Joe says he and Chris never really talked about the dangers of being a police officer. He says it’s something all officers know is part of the job, it’s an unspoken requirement to wear the badge. “We know that by going there is a chance that you won’t be going home at the end of the day. We hope so. We are doing everything we can to stay safe. We know the risk that entails,” said Chelsea.

It’s a risk that even adults struggle to fully understand. But through the lens of a 9-year-old child, words cannot express fear and sadness. As demonstrated by Joe and Chelsea’s son Landen, Chris’ nephew.

“When he told me, I felt shocked,” Landen said.

Landen says his favorite memories with Chris were when he was showing her how to hit and throw a baseball. “He’s a hero and we should always remember him not as a cop but as a hero, and someone who’s very good at baseball and softball and someone who’s kind to other people. “Landen said.

Rebecca R. Santistevan