Hawthorne, CA – Hawthorne Police Department (HPD) Officer Iva “Christi” Chiarello died on March 13, following a lengthy battle against cancer.
Two years and five months before her death, Officer Chiarello was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that developed in her heart, the HPD said in a Facebook post on March 14.
“Yesterday we lost one very special soul,” the post read. “Officer Chiarello fought cancer hard for over two years, and during that time she managed to stay positive, never lost hope, and never ever felt sorry for herself.”
She underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation treatments during her “valiant fight,” yet always “remained brave with a positive outlook on life,” according to the HPD.
“Christi was never content to just recuperate at home and insisted on returning to her work at the Hawthorne Police Department Detective Bureau between treatments,” the post read. “Even through this last battle, Christi remained focused on gathering her strength back so that she could return to work in order to continue to provide her services for the department, community, and especially the youth.”
Despite her own struggles, Officer Chiarello was always working to comfort those around her.
“She was a tough cookie with a heart of gold,” the department said. “We will all miss her greatly. Be at peace sister, we got it from here.”
The longtime South Bay area resident graduated from Hawthorne High School in 1980.
She joined HPD as a recruit in 1992, and graduated from the Long Beach Police Academy the following year.
During the nearly three decades that followed, she served as a patrol officer, school resource officer, juvenile detective, and Special Victims Unit investigator.
Officer Chiarello was an original member of the Special Enforcement Team, which was tasked with patrolling the city on bicycles in order to target “quality of life issues” within the community, the HPD said.
She was also an original member of the department’s Crisis Negotiator Team and the Peer Support Group, and “cherished” her role as a Police Explorer Advisor.
“Christi has helped to develop and mentor countless youths as an Explorer Advisor for over the last fifteen years,” the HPD added. “She strived to provide guidance for these youths and help to mentor them in the proper direction so that they could ultimately fulfill their personal goals and dreams while becoming a valuable member of the community.”
Officer Chiarello was an active member of the Hawthorne Police Officers Association and enjoyed helping out with various community events, such as the Special Olympics Torch Run and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
She leaves behind her daughter, Amy, and her brother, Darnell.
Officer Chiarello is also survived by “countless close friends and family not only in the Hawthorne Police Department but from agencies throughout the South Bay,” HPD said.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Hawthorne Police Department Officer Iva “Christi” Chiarello, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.