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June 14, 2014

Father's Day 2014: Police officer follows in the footsteps of her late dad

NEW CASTLE — Like her kindergarten classmates, Amanda Ventura was learning, exploring and playing.

But at age 5, she had already come to an important decision.

She knew she wanted to be a police officer. And she never changed her mind.

Ventura, 24, was inspired by her father, Nick Ventura, who was a sergeant with the Shenango Township police department. She was 15 when her father died from lung cancer in 2004 at age 42.

The 2008 Shenango High graduate works for the New Castle, Hickory Township and Wampum police departments, and at the latter, she wears her dad’s badge number — 2904.

Even her kindergarten photo shows Ventura dressed in an officer’s hat and shirt.

Her mother, Ann Barber, recalls those early days.

“Being the first born, Amanda spent a lot of time at the police station with her dad,” Barber said. “When she was a baby, crying and cranky at night, I would drive her down to Wampum to see her dad and that always made her happy.”

Ventura graduated from the police academy at Beaver County Community College in 2011. Then that kindergarten dream became a reality.

While the void of her father’s death was immense, Ventura, her mother, sister and brother were comforted in part by all the praise they received about the man who made an impact on others.

“He was the best,” Ventura explained. “People still tell me about the respect they had for him. He always wanted to help people, and other officers often asked him for advice.”

“Her dad was a very special person to his family and his community,” Barber said. “He had a real passion for the youth and keeping them on the right track.”

Ventura’s father was always her influence.

“His first job was with the Wampum police department, and my first job was Wampum. My dad was good friends with Frank Jannetti, chief at Wampum, and he saved my dad’s badge number.”

Being a police officer is a position she loves.

“Every day is different. It’s the best job ever.”

Her family is very proud of Ventura’s accomplishments, Barber said.

“There are many times I wish her dad were here to help her and give her advice. I know there are days she wishes he were riding right next to her in the police cruiser.”

Ventura shares her father’s desire to help people. Her ultimate goal is to become a homicide detective.

While growing up, she watched everything her father did.

“I have his sense of humor,” she said. “I miss everything about him. He raised all three of us right. Family meant everything to him.”

Nick Ventura, who also worked for Lawrence County Operations Center as a dispatcher and spent 15 years as a police officer, started his career about the same time Amanda was born.

“When I was in first or second grade, I played with his keys, handcuffs and flashlight,” she said. “Then when he had to go to work, his stuff would be missing and my mom would have to search the house for them.”

When she was 10 and her father got new handcuffs, she received the old ones and tried them on. But the key didn’t work.

“My dad had to leave work and get me out of them, but he didn’t get mad.”

This Father’s Day and every day, Ventura has one wish.

“I hope one day I will be as good at the job as he was.”

(Email: lhudson@ncnewsonline.com.)

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