officer seth howard

Officer Seth Howard, who just started with the Beatrice Police Department about a week ago, is one of two new officers to join the force.

Sam Craig Daily Sun staff

There’s a new cop on the beat and he speaks both German and Hungarian.

Seth Howard is one of two new police officers that started at the Beatrice Police Department about a week ago, and while he’s not as fluent as he might have once been, he’s transformed his love of linguistics into a passion for policing.

Howard was a police officer in Ames, Iowa for six years and a patrol officer in Dodge City, Iowa for three years before that. He moved to the Lincoln area last year and applied to be an officer in Beatrice.

After written tests, physical tests and a series of interviews, Howard and Zach Smith—who will be profiled in the Daily Sun next week—were brought on as the newest police officers in Beatrice after officer Christopher Whitfield left to work as a trainer for the U.S. Marshals Service and Doug Heminger returned to work in the prison system.

Being a cop wasn’t what Howard was originally planning on doing, however. He grew up in Illinois and spent his last two years of high school in Bakersfield, Calif. before attending Iowa State University where he earned a degree in German.

He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do professionally with his linguistics degree, but a major event changed his plans, he said.

“Languages were of real interest to me at the time, so I was kind of really thinking of some kind of linguistics degree,” Howard said. “But then after 9/11 happened, it really kind of got me thinking of more of a service-oriented career choice, so that's where I ended up after graduating.”

Service to the community was the biggest thing that drew Howard into police work, he said, which, Beatrice Police Department captain Gerald Lamkin said, is what they were looking for in their new officer.

The department can get between 20 and 50 applicants for a single police officer position, Lamkin said. The Civil Service Committee narrowed the field of applicants down to a pool of six for the department to choose from. After interviews with the top brass and fellow officers, the two best fits were Howard and Smith, Lamkin said, who both had background in law enforcement.

“The ones that do make it, we feel really, really good about,” Lamkin said. “These two gentlemen, we feel real comfortable with.”

During his search for work, Howard said he got a good feeling from being in Beatrice. It reminded him of Dodge City, a place he loved working in, and the BPD made him feel at home.

“Seemed to me it was a kind of tight-knit, family department,” Howard said.

The department saw something in Howard as well, Lamkin said, as well as Smith—who came to the department from the Gage County Sheriff’s Office.

“We look for those officers that have a passion,” Lamkin said. “Passion and integrity are not something that can be taught. So you look for those unique qualities in those that do apply.”

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