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Their mission was not to crack down on what the kids are doing wrong but to help point them in a direction to do something positive with their lives.
Troopers escorted about 30 students in cruisers from the school to the Akron Highway Patrol Post.
Lt. Antonio Matos, commander of the post has spent much of the past five years going to the school to help mentor students and encourage them with a message that regardless of their circumstances they can be successful in life.
On Wednesday, he helped bring together a diverse group of troopers, police officers, deputies, and others, many of whom have come from similar or even more challenging backgrounds than the students might ever face.
They included Milan Milosevic, a Highway Patrol Pilot whose family fled poverty and oppression in Yugoslavia and found their way to the United States where he arrived not even being able to speak English.
“From me having nothing, being hungry, cold, afraid going to school, being picked on, beat up, money stolen, I’m here to tell you, I’ve been in your shoes. I know what it’s like and if I can do something positive I know all of you guys can also,” Milosevic told the students.
Trooper Bouthan Sangsiphanh who spent several years in refugee camps in Thailand after fleeing communist Laos, where at the age of seven he witnessed a soldier kick a man in the head whose hands were bound.
“Ever since i saw that I always wanted to be a police officer or soldier where I can help people out and where I can make a difference in peoples lives instead of punishing people that’s kind of how my law enforcement career got started.”
Also on hand for the event was Col. Rick Fambro, the new Ohio State Highway Patrol Superintendent.
Fambro rose to the Highway Patrol’s highest position after growing up in a single parent home in inner city Columbus, becoming the Patrol’s first African American Superintendent.
“There’s nothing more important I mean I have a lot of things on my plate, but when we are talking about little kids, its an opportunity to invest in my future,” said Fambro.
“For me, I had people like that in my life that were positive that were focused on me not being a part of the statistics taht we so often see in the inner cities,” he added.
Lt. Matos hoped by visiting with the troopers and others the students could see themselves, as if looking in a mirror, while building a lasting bond between law enforcement and the kids.
“There is so much hope for them out there for them and not to give up on that hope and no matter what they want to do regardless of their circumstances, their past, their dreams that they would decide today that they are going to be amazing people,” said Matos.
“If we messed up everything today, if nothing went right or for a trooper that goes through a shift and nothing went right, if we get one thing right and that’s to love people then we did what we needed to do and the rest will take care of itself,” said Matos.
While sharing lunch with the students and taking them on a guided tour of the post and the various vehicles used by troopers, those officers who were there hoped to also create a bond that they hope the students will remember for the rest of their lives.
“This may not resonate today with the kids but they will enjoy it and it will be fun but five, six seven ten years from now who knows what impression this will have what type of an effect todays event will have on them,” said Fambro.