When James Ashley opens his locker and puts on his blue uniform every morning, he sees a reminder of people's kindness. 

Ashley has been an officer at the Lincoln Police Department for 34 years, and he's seen a lot. But on a recent Monday morning, he experienced something new.

"I just cleared a call down south of 70th Street and Yankee Woods Drive and I see this white SUV coming southbound," he said. "It was a cooler day and the driver had her window all the way down and she's kinda poking her head out and smiling and waving frantically, so I thought, 'Oh that's nice, hello.'"

The driver motioned at him to pull over, and when he stopped he radioed in his location and watched the woman get out of her SUV, hands up and smiling.

"She says, 'There's no problem,'" Ashley said. 

The two chatted for a bit, and she pulled out a specialty coin with the Superman logo on it. She explained that a group of her friends bought the coins to hand out to law enforcement.

"She says, 'I wanted to stop you and say that to us, you're a superman,'" he said. "She handed me the coin."

Before he could say much back, she walked back to her SUV and drove off. 

"I'm sitting there dumbfounded because I've been a cop in Lincoln for 34 years and I'm going, 'This has never happened to me before. Now what do I do?'"

Ashley doesn't know who the woman is or anything about her, but if he could send a message he'd say this: "I greatly appreciate her and her friend's sentiments and it is a tough job these days and it's really heartwarming to have something like this happen, especially this time of the year."

Local police have seen several acts of kindness in recent months, said Officer Katie Flood.

On Nov. 9, students and faculty at St. John's Catholic School presented officers with St. Michael medals, St. Michael being the patron saint of police officers. And, they gave the police dog unit St. Francis medals.

On Dec. 1, Artglass Unlimited presented officers with 380 handmade stained glass hearts. Each heart is fused with a thin blue line representing law enforcement.

Owner Judy Stanczyk had the idea for the project over the summer, and she and three employees and some art students spent a few weeks handcrafting each heart.

"There's three glass pieces to the heart, you have to clean the heart and prep the heart and put them in the kiln, which takes 24 hours," she said.

Asked if she ever thought the project was crazy, overwhelming and impossible, Stanczyk laughed.

"Right away, the day we started," she said.

But the labor was worth it to show Lincoln's finest some appreciation, she said.

"It was a great reaction from (the officers)," she said. "We've gotten emails, cards thanking us."

She started receiving orders for the hearts and has now sent them to Omaha and central Nebraska.

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Reach the writer at 402-473-7395 or nmanna@journalstar.com

On Twitter @LJSNicholeManna.


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