Were it not for an unexpected call from the Sarpy County Sheriff’s Office, Larry Fasnacht’s long career in law enforcement might never have got off the ground.
Fasnacht, a sergeant with the Papillion Police Department, retired Aug. 1 after a 41-year run in law enforcement, the last 25 with PPD.
But were it not for that call from Sarpy Sheriff’s nearly 40 years ago, Fasnacht’s path might have taken him in a different direction.
“I joined the Air Force after high school and was a mechanic, but also cross training for law enforcement,” Fasnacht said. “I spent three years doing police work at Offutt Air Force Base, but I wasn’t getting any calls from any local agencies.
“I went back to school and was going to learn heating and air conditioning. Then I get a call from the Sarpy Sheriff’s Office. They offered me a job and asked me if I could start the next day.”
He spent the next dozen years working for the county, but was ready for a change when the PPD opportunity presented itself.
“I was working at the jail and that isn’t what I wanted,” Fasnacht said. “I actually took a pay cut to come to Papillion, but I didn’t have to work at the jail.”
Instead, he settled in for a 25-year run on the overnight shift with PPD, patrolling the streets from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m.
While many officers might cringe at the thought of an extended career working the late shift, Fasnacht learned to embrace it.
“It wasn’t initially my choice to work the night shift, but the type of activity you hope for as a cop is the kind that happens at night,” he said. “To me, there was less nonsense at night than what goes on during the day. I had opportunities to go to a day shift, but I knew if I did, I’d never come back to nights.”
While there are bad guys during the day, the majority of them seem to come out at night, something Fasnacht learned very quickly in his career.
“My first domestic violence case involved a woman who claimed her husband tried to choke her,” he said. “As we examined further, the husband was full of scratches from the woman and there was a butcher knife stuck in a door she tried to stab him with.
“I’ve had serial murders, rapists, robberies. I’ve seen pretty much everything.”
The stories don’t always have happy endings, but for Fasnacht, bringing justice to a situation is the best conclusion he can find.
“Every morning when I would come home, my wife (Cheryl), would ask me how my shift went,” he said. “One morning I just answered, ‘It was perfect.” She asked what I meant by that and I told her that if I can help someone through a situation and put someone in jail who deserves to be there, that’s a perfect night.”
Fasnacht made many sacrifices along the way as a police officer, but said he wouldn’t change anything about the career path that unfolded in front of him.
“I visit with some of my other retired friends and we all talk about what we’ve done for humanity,” he said. “Some people talk about giving a couple hours here and there, but I’ve devoted my entire adult life to serving the community.
“I started out in aircraft maintenance and I was good at my job, but it never seemed fulfilling. Some jobs are important because of the people you’re doing it for. Being a cop can be fun. There’s lots of crazy stuff that goes on, but when you catch the bad guy, you feel that satisfaction.”
A career of being gone most nights has left Fasnacht a lot of catching up to do with his family which includes Cheryl, two adult children and two grandchildren.
“Cheryl was a nurse for 30 years before retiring last year so she’s been waiting for me,” he said. “We have some travel plans and I’m going to work on trying to enjoy myself.”
Fasnacht is glad his final years as an officer were spent with PPD.
“A lot of departments you work for have some people who aren’t pulling their weight, but that was never the case with Papillion,” he said. “It’s a great place.”