Casey Amato on the receiving line during her graduation from the police academy.
Casey Amato on the receiving line during her graduation from the police academy. Frank Morris
Casey and Dominic Amato. 'Hey dude,' his friends say, 'your mom's a cop!'
Casey Amato always wanted to be a police officer. She figured she didn't stand a chance. She didn't think she was tough enough, or had the kind of presence that commanded attention.
She was wrong.
Last month, 41-year-old Officer Amato graduated from the regional Police Academy in Kansas City. She is now on patrol on the suburban streets of Overland Park, Kan.
"I'm the tank with the blond pony tail", she says.
This modestly paying job, around $40,000 per year, came at a considerable price. Casey Amato had to leave her hometown of Dearborn, Mich., and her 16-year-old son.
Dominic Amato was about to be a senior in high school when his mom announced she was going to change careers, giving up two decades in the automotive publishing industry. More important, she was going to have to look for a job out of state.
Michigan required its police to have college degrees and she didn't have one. After a brief search, she found work outside Kansas City, 600 miles away.
Dominic did not want to change schools so close to graduation. His mother agreed he could stay in Dearborn. So for the first time in his life, he went to live with his father.
"I was lonely and told him I needed a pet. We got fish," Dominic said.
The two have been separated since April and both are faring well. Dominic's got his driver's license and his mother has launched her new career.
"I couldn't have done it without the support of my family," says Casey Amato. "I was lucky."