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A Superhero Retires

A lifetime of auto safety service

The reward for good work…is more work. At least for Clare Pfotenhauer. The former police officer retired at 50 and then started a new career. Clare shared, “Retiring at 50 was too young.”

Let’s rewind to June 1988. Clare Pfotenhauer just graduated from the police academy and began her exciting and rewarding career with the Illinois State Police in Chicago.

Her very first night on the job, Clare was called to a traffic crash. What she saw was horrific; an unrestrained child was trapped underneath the dash of an overturned vehicle. “I believed this experience was a sign I should begin working on child passenger safety issues”.

Within several years, she progressed through the ranks and became a Safety Education Officer. For more than 18 years, she conducted child seat inspections, organized traffic safety programming and even ran safety education booths at the Chicago Auto Show and Illinois State Fair. She knew she found her niche in safety education.

Clare was an integral part of the department. In 2011, she was promoted to Sergeant in the Patrol Unit. Just a year later she was transferred to the Public Information Office Safety Education Unit as the Statewide Coordinator.

Clare’s work in the Safety Education Unit gave her the opportunity to focus on community programming. She was involved in a variety of activities including:

  • Child Passenger Safety Seat Technician Training, Recertification Classes and Seat Inspections;
  • Traffic Safety Programming;
  • Safety Education Booth at the Chicago Auto Show, the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin County Fair;
  • Lifesavers Conference as a presenter and organizer; and
  • Safety Education Officer Conference as a presenter and organizer and press events for holiday emphasis periods

On December 31, 2015, after 27 years of service, Clare retired from the Illinois State Police as the Northern Deputy Chief Public Information Officer. But this hero couldn’t just walk away from what had become her calling.

“I started my career with the Illinois State Police at the early age of 21,” shared Clare. “As a result, I maxed out my time with the Illinois State Police and retired at 50. Now, I’m following my passion, working to improve child passenger and teen driver safety.”

She is now the Child Passenger Safety Coordinator for Cook County and neighboring counties. She also serves as the Regional Traffic Safety Liaison, providing traffic safety programming for teens and seniors at RUSH-Copley Hospital.

Through the efforts of Clare, State Farm, and other traffic safety partners, Illinois is able to provide educational, interactive and engaging traffic safety programming for all ages statewide.

This superhero may have retired but she is still making it her job to save lives. Thanks Clare!

To read how auto safety work like Clare’s saved a young girl’s life, read Saving Leilani.

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