Officer Zac Smith has only been with the Beatrice Police Department since Sept. 1, but he’s no stranger to Beatrice law enforcement.
Smith is one of two new officers on the force. Officer Seth Howard—the other new officer—was profiled in the Daily Sun on Saturday.
Smith came to the BPD from the Gage County Sheriff’s Office.
“Stealing individuals from the Sheriff's Office is not something we're known for,” said BPD Captain Gerald Lamkin, “but we'll take them.”
Smith started as a deputy at the Sheriff’s Office about a year and a half ago, he said, but missed working as a local cop.
A native of Valparaiso, Neb., Smith got his start west of Beatrice working in the town of Shelton. Smith met his girlfriend in Shelton and they moved to the Lincoln area where she works with the University of Nebraska police.
“I kind of missed working for a police department,” Smith said. “They were hiring and I applied and got on with them.”
Serving papers with the Sheriff’s Office got a little monotonous, he said, and the pay and benefits with the city were better, so he made the switch.
Both Smith and Howard had experience in law enforcement, Lamkin said, which made the hiring process easier. The two were already certified officers, so they did not need to undergo the long training process again.
The full training process sends potential officers to the academy and is followed by 12 weeks of field training that can take months to complete. Because the potential officers can drop out at any time, there is no guarantee that they will actually join the force.
“Either you want to do this job, or you don't,” Lamkin said. “When I was promoted years ago to captain, I was asked by a reporter then if that was my aspiration then, to achieve this position. My reply then, as it is today: No, I just want to be a cop. So we look for those officers that have a passion.”
When he’s not on duty, Smith tries to visit family as often as he can and spends a lot of time hitting the weight room. He also does a bit of sport shooting, including sporting clays, skeet shooting or shooting at the range.
When you see Smith, you’ll notice some tattoos peeking out from the short sleeves of his uniform.
One is a spiky tribal design he got when he was younger, but the other has an even greater significance to him. The second tattoo is a black and white American flag with a blue line through the middle, and it represents the “thin blue line” separating the public from criminal elements.
Smith said he’s sure he’ll get a few more tattoos in the future.
“Down the road,” he said. “I just don't know where. I like to keep them above the elbow.”