Roncalli Catholic High School alumni Ben Miller and Keith Williamson always aspired to serve the public.
Over two decades later, Miller (‘97) and Williamson (‘94) have seen that dream realized through successful careers in law enforcement.
While the pair completed their education at Roncalli Catholic at different times, their careers have mirrored each other. Both began their career in law enforcement as patrol officers at the Lincoln Police Department. Years later, Miller and Williamson were promoted to captain within a day of each other at LPD and the Omaha Police Department, respectively.
The pair’s success can be tied back to the roots that were planted as students at Roncalli Catholic, according to Miller.
“As a student at Roncalli Catholic, one of the things that was entrenched in everything you did was to be a good person and treat people right,” he said. “With what I do now, I can guarantee that has led to the vast majority of the success that I’ve had in this job.”
Miller’s interest in law enforcement came while he was a student at Roncalli Catholic. One of his best friend’s parents had worked as a Secret Service agent.
That relationship ultimately led to Miller becoming interested in joining the FBI. Miller said multiple pathways were available to begin a career in the FBI. He could have either attended law school and applied from there or received his undergraduate degree and begin working as a police officer before eventually applying for the FBI.
He chose to attend undergraduate school, initially attending the University of Nebraska Omaha in 1998. While at UNO, Miller played football, but ultimately decided to take a break from sports that year.
Miller later transferred to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where he received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and psychology.
Miller applied to LPD as a senior at UNL in the fall of 2000 and ultimately received a job offer in January 2001. The offer came at the start of his second and final semester of school at UNL.
He decided to take the position and was hired by LPD in February of 2001. After Miller completed academy training, he returned to UNL to complete his degree.
“I figured it would be a good trial run to see what it was like,” Miller said.
From there, Miller’s career took off. After getting his feet wet as a patrol officer, Miller spent several years working on LPD’s Criminal Investigations Unit before eventually being promoted to sergeant in 2012.
During his time in the Criminal Investigation’s Unit, Miller said he was able to collaborate with the DEA and FBI on several cases in Lincoln. Over the course of his time in the unit, Miller even became a deputized FBI agent.
That opportunity meant that he was able to still live out the dream he had as a teenager while making a difference close to home.
“It was at that time that I learned that being in Lincoln is more of what I wanted,” he said. “I think several factors played into that one. I was married and was having kids, so that kind of changes your viewpoint on things and whether you want to move all around the country or not. I also realized that being a police officer in Lincoln and Omaha, and most of the city agencies, gives you a lot more freedom to interact with the public and engage the public.”
For Williamson, the desire to pursue a career in law enforcement began as a child.
“I’ve always kind of known that was what I wanted to do,” he said. “My father was a Vietnam veteran, so I wanted to do some sort of service where I could give back to the community.”
Williamson described himself as a person driven by the goals laid out in front of him. That mindset carried him to success in sports like track and field, football and basketball at Roncalli Catholic and helped him transition into law enforcement.
“You work on teams and have these individual things you want to accomplish, whether you’re investigating the case or whatever, but overall you know you’re working together to accomplish things as a team,” he said. “It was a natural fit for me.”
Williamson graduated from Wayne State College in 1998 with a degree in criminal justice and minors in sociology, social sciences and law enforcement.
Williamson worked as a patrol officer in Lincoln for two years following graduation before returning to Omaha to work in the same role for OPD.
“I wanted to get back to my hometown,” he said.
He held that role for the next seven years, working shifts in every precinct around the city. Williamson eventually gravitated toward Omaha’s Northeast Precinct, the same area where his parents grew up and where his grandmother currently lives.
“I spent a lot of time here,” he said.
Williamson’s next step in his career saw him transition to serve as a detective in OPD’s Gang Unit in south Omaha. The position forced him to learn quickly, but he said the experience was positive.
In 2008, Williamson was promoted to sergeant, prompting him to return to OPD’s Northeast Precinct.
Williamson’s career took another step forward in 2015, when he was promoted to lieutenant and was placed in charge of the department’s Internal Affairs Bureau. He served in that role for two years before returning to OPD’s Gang Unit in 2017.
In March, both Miller and Williamson were promoted to captain within 24 hours of each other.
Looking back on his career, Williamson said he is proud of what he has accomplished.
“It’s kind of been a natural progression of just moving along and saying: ‘Okay, what is the next challenge? What’s the next goal?” Williamson said. “So it is satisfying, but you don’t ever do anything in a vacuum.”
Williamson pointed to the support from his family, colleagues and even mentors from his time at Roncalli Catholic as critical pieces to his success.
“All that stuff and all those experiences help build you up,” he said.
Miller agreed. Looking back at the pair’s progression through the ranks of law enforcement, he said it isn’t surprising to see thanks to the focus Roncalli Catholic places on developing leaders among its students.
“There’s just so many opportunities that Roncalli Catholic affords you that a lot of other schools just can’t provide,” he said. “It carries over to your work life and it kind of becomes
Looking back at past alumni that have gone on to be leaders in their respective roles is something Miller said he’s come to expect.
“We are a small school, but it’s amazing how many connections we have within the community,” he said.
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