Story by Reagan Scott
LINCOLN (SNR) — For three Lincoln schools, police officer Troy Aksamit is a trusted, welcome presence on campus.
Assigned to St. John the Apostle and St. Patrick Catholic schools as well as Norwood public elementary school, Aksamit stops by as often as he can to spend time with the students and get to know the schools’ administrators.
While he doesn’t have a set day that he visits each school, Aksamit visits each of his assigned schools twice a month, time permitting.
Usually, Aksamit visits in the morning as the children are coming to school, or in the afternoon when they’re at lunch. These visits are a welcome reprieve from Aksamit’s regular workload.
“I always enjoy seeing the kids,” Aksamit said. “For me, it’s a stress release and it helps me decompress.”
At St. John’s for example, Aksamit parks his cruiser at the front entrance where he stands to greet students as they walk into the building. He said he likes that it sets the tone for the students’ days.
Leah Bethune, the principal at St. Patrick School, said she enjoys having Aksamit come to visit the school every few weeks.
“Student safety is always a concern for us and Officer Aksamit is a friendly face who allows our students, families and staff to be safe. That has had a huge impact on our school,” Bethune said. “We know that if we called him, he would be there for us.”
One of the things Aksamit enjoys most about his job is forming connections with the students at each school. Since he has been visiting each school for the last four years, the students know Aksamit by name, and some even refer to him as “Officer Troy” since, he said, his last name can be hard for them to say.
The students enjoy telling Aksamit stories about their lives and often update him on what’s happened every time he comes back. When he visits with students at lunch, they have even more time to talk with him and share what’s on their minds.
Aksamit said, “It’s a lot of little stories that start expanding over time.”
This rapport he has developed with the kids also leads some of them to approach him to say hi, even if they see him out of uniform.
In this role, Aksamit sees his presence as an important part of the students’ day. He hopes that by being a trusted resource in the school, the students will realize that police officers are more than what society sometimes paints them to be.
“A police officer is not just a stereotype,” he said. “They’re people that [students] can relate to on a personal basis.”
Related item: St. John holds assembly to "Back the Blue"
Aksamit also hopes that his involvement in the school has a positive influence on the kids later in their lives. He is of the opinion that having this communication with kids at a young age might cause them to be less inclined to have criminal tendencies later in life.
By speaking with students, Aksamit wants them to realize that just like the students, police officers also have these struggles in their lives.
“We want kids to know that they’re not the only ones who make mistakes,” he said. “We want students to remember that someone may have helped them out when they were young.”
This partnership between the Lincoln Police Department and Lincoln’s Catholic and public schools aims to help make the city a better place for everyone.
Aksamit said, “We all have to live together and help each other to grow as a community.”