Sheriff, Marine Corp, Sergeant, student resource officer, youth pastor, husband, father, coworker, mentor, and friend. There are so many titles that Deputy A.P. Ramaeker has held in his lifetime, but everyone around here knows him best as Tony. 

For as long as he can remember, Ramaeker has been preparing for a life in law enforcement. Two of his uncles worked for the justice system when he was growing up and he drew much influence from them. His respect for and interest in law enforcement developed more as he heard story after story around his family members.

“It’s something that I always wanted to do. It was always in me. It was always something that I worked for. I made decisions, honestly at an early age, starting at the age of twelve I think, to start gearing myself towards a law enforcement career” Ramaeker said. 

Despite the dream that held him steady in his path, there was bound to be obstacles along the way. One particular instance caused him to take a brief step back from law enforcement. After being declined a position at the Omaha Police Department,  despite being ranked number two overall, Ramaeker knew that something was up. After personally investigating the situation, he found out that one of the background investigators for the OPD was told to keep him and another candidate from getting a job because they were just ‘white boys from Crossroads’. 

“I was a little bit shaky on law enforcement after that because I got hosed, the two of us got hosed. And quite honestly the two of us are better off than if we had gotten hired at that point. So, blessing in disguise, absolutely” Ramaeker said. 

And blessing in disguise it was, as a few years later when politics in the police force became too much to deal with, a friend drew him to another calling; the Marines. 

“I always had a tremendous amount of respect for the Marines. It’s the toughest bootcamp, it’s the toughest life of all the military departments, so that what I wanted to do. I wanted to go through the toughest, I wanted to live the toughest” Ramaeker said. 

The toughest is just what he did, but he didn’t stop at merely doing it. He did it and ended on top, scoring a 99, the highest possible score, on the Armed Services Vocational Battery, or ASVAB. After taking the test, his friend, who was also his recruiter, informed him that the field was wide open, any path that he wanted to take, he could. With a future in the police department still on his mind, he considered the many options that the Marine Corp. had to offer. 

“[My recruiter] talked to me about a couple different things. One of them was being a linguist in the Marine Corp. Well, I knew that knowing a foreign language helps you on the police department, so let’s do the foreign language thing, and it’s an intelligence department, as well, so you get a top secret clearance. What police department wouldn’t want a guy that speaks another language and already has a top secret clearance. It’s a win-win” Ramaeker said. “So, I became a Russian linguist in the Marine Corp.”

Ramaeker didn’t go in blind with out Russian experience, though. Between fifth and sixth grade, he had taken a college course in a program offered through the community college of his hometown. The program is meant to offer advanced classes of interest to kids in middle school over the summer that aren’t offered in the traditional junior high curriculum. Young Ramaeker ranked at or above the 95th percentile on the Iowa Test of Basic Skills, the standardized test that determined eligibility for the program, and decided to give Russian a go, not knowing the importance that this foundation would hold in the future. As the linguistics department started to shrink at the National Security Agency, he transferred to counter intelligence.

“Super fun job; It taught me things that on the outside world would be considered criminal, like how to break into places, how to defeat alarms, how to pick locks, interview and interrogation techniques, how to scam people, how to manipulate people, how to use psychology to get answers out of people. I mean, it was pretty intense, but it was a whole lot of fun” Ramaeker said.

When he left the Marines, he started work in federal law enforcement at the DEA, or Drug Enforcement Administration, in Arlington Virginia, but it wasn’t long until he and his wife, both homesick, made the decision to return west. When they made it back to Omaha, he had to choose between positions offered to him at both the police department and sheriff’s office. In the end, he chose the latter and has been a part of the office for 17 years. 

“There’s less politics, there’s less nonsense” Ramaeker said. “You can get a wider range of things to do. You could be moving cattle off a road way at 9 am and you could be working a homicide scene at 10am. That’s the varying calls that we get at the sheriff’s office, so that for me is more exciting.”

Although it has been apart of his life for the longest time, law enforcement is not Ramaekers only passion. Little do many people know, he has played a significant role for the past 15 years at New Life Church in Council Bluffs.

“I started out as a youth leader, and then went through the process to become ordained to become a youth pastor, so teens have always been on my heart. It is something that I have always felt drawn to, and being able to work in a highschool with teenagers all day everyday, that’s a dream job for me” Ramaeker said. 

The average Joe would see little correlation between work as a pastor and sheriff, but Ramaeker easily disproves that point. 

“I would say so much of his youth pastoring ties into how he is such a good SRO. He ministers to youth from all different backgrounds and experiences. He knows how to help someone get on the right path and expect the best for their life” Annette Wagoner, associate pastor at New Life Church, said. 

His role at the church holds significant influence over the youth that walk through the doors; he sees where all of them come from and knows how to interact with them like an old friend.

“Lots of people think that youth group kids are these god-fearing, awesome, locked on tight kids that never have any problems and that it’s all hallelujah and happy and joy. Oh boy is that far from the truth. Some of them are, but the majority of them are teenagers just like everybody else, they have their highs and lows” Ramaeker said. 

Ramaeker differentiates himself in one unique aspect of his position by using the gratification of being a positive influence among adolescents as compensation for his time.

“I don’t get paid for anything I do there. They offer to pay me for it, but I don’t want it to be a paid position, I don’t want it to be a job. I want it to remain something that I enjoy doing, and that I do because I enjoy doing, not because I get paid for it” Ramaeker said. 

Ramaeker uses his passion for working with teenagers in many other ways, mostly volunteer work, along with his pastoring and SRO positions. Starting a few years ago, he started to volunteer at The Hope Center for Kids to help with security, but he now has come to help with the faith-based organization of their outreaches, coaching volleyball teams, organizing all security, as well as doing ministry in the area. 

Within the school here, Ramaeker doesn’t only fill the role of SRO, he finds additional ways to fill his time surrounding himself with students. 

“We went trap shooting with the trap team, which was a lot of fun, we’ve done that the last three years together, and so has the administration, that’s always a lot of fun. I know he’s involved heavily with volleyball because of his daughter and he’s helped us do lines for the volleyball team throughout the year this year” Activities Director and Assistant Principal Roger Ortmeier said.

His familiar face on the court not only further shows his commitment to the student body he protects on the clock, but the interest he holds in the students and their support for each other. 

“I get to listen to the student section,  because I always pick that corner, and they sometimes make mean comments to me like “missed that call, Tony”, and it hurts and sometimes I cry, but I cry in private so they don’t see me,” Ramaeker said, with slight sarchasm. “But I still love listening to all of the comments, I love how the students get involved with it, how this group of students will cheer on this group of students and vice versa. Why wouldn’t I want to be a part of that. I love it.”

Ramaeker enjoys many hobbies and activities outside of the school and church, as well. 

“I think you may already know this, he has awesome dance moves! You should ask him if you haven’t seen for yourself! He also has a background in martial arts, he’s a black belt, and has been a trainer for our pastor’s grandson and others in their MMA fights,” Wagoner said. “Tony has three styles of black belts: Wado Ryu Karate, Ninjitsu, and Taijutsu. He also fought in the ring himself at several law enforcement competitions “Guns & Hoses.”

Despite all else that he is involved in outside of the walls of the school, everything comes full circle for him, right back to where we all know him from. Through all that he does for us here at Elkhorn South to keep us safe, make us laugh, give us advice, tell us stories, and share food, there is one thing, for him, that stands out among his duties. 

“Ok, this is going to sound cheesy; I love being out there in the morning. I love seeing all the familiar faces coming in with smiles on their faces. I get my high-fives, and my knuckle bumps, and I get hugs every once in a while,” said Ramaeker. “My favorite part, starts my day, fills my bucket, every morning, and I, like this morning I wasn’t able to get out there because I had a ton of stuff that landed on my desk when I first got here, and I really missed it. I feel like something’s missing in my day when I don’t stand out there. My favorite part.”