Little girl’s curiosity leads to family’s friendship with Omaha Police

Published: Feb. 4, 2022 at 7:14 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - Young A-Juhia “AJ” Miller has quite the resume. She’s only 4-years-old, reading on a high school level and she has friends in some pretty high places, like Omaha Police.

She’s known across the department as their little helper.

“She rearranges all the signs on the bulletin board and she draws up things on the whiteboard for us,” said Sgt. Dan Martin, who also happens to be AJ’s best friend.

The pair met in 2021 when Sgt. Martin was investigating a crime. AJ saw him and was captivated by his flashlight.

“So, I told her that I would bring her, her very own flashlight,” Martin said and he made good on his promise the very next day, delivering a brand new, purple flashlight to her home.

It was an instant friendship and over the course of the past year, AJ would stop by the West Precinct to visit.

AJ visits Sgt. Martin at the OPD West Precinct
AJ visits Sgt. Martin at the OPD West Precinct(OPOA)

AJ says she loves her flashlight because it “shines bright,” and much like her bright personality, she has no problem captivating all of the officers she meets. Martin says they’re always asking when AJ will be back.

Sgt. Martin and AJ’s friendship underscores a larger relationship between police and the public, however.

“Community policing, it can’t just be enforcement. We have to build trust and relationships,” he said, adding that applies to everyone, no matter the age.

Martin says it’s especially important to create those community relationships early on, like with AJ.

“She’s always going to have a positive reaction when she sees a police officer now. She knows that we’re there to help, she knows we’re her friend and she can call us.”

AJ’s family knows it too. They’ve also stayed close with Sgt. Martin, bringing the department Thanksgiving meals, enjoying a Christmas gift exchange, and most recently, the Omaha Police Officers Association referred two of AJ’s relatives to Project Reset.

Project Reset is a fully funded program under the Nebraska Center for Workforce Development and Education, led by Executive Director and Omaha Police Sergeant Aaron Hanson.

“Anyone in the community, especially with re-entry background, can come if they need a good job, guidance with housing instability or transportation challenges. At the end of the day if we’re going to have a safer communities, those have to be prosperous communities,” said Hanson.

He boasts that Project Reset focuses on all types of trades, especially ones that provide substantial wages in highly skilled positions, like phlebotomy.

One of AJ’s family members will be starting a career in that field soon.

Sgt. Hanson says he’s thrilled to see a “front end positive interaction” between OPD and a community member have ripple effects for the Miller family.

But it’s not just a win for the Millers; Sgt. Martin says officers go through so much and see so much on a daily basis, having a genuine friendship like the one with AJ is the best part of the day and a testament to the reciprocal benefits of community policing.

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