nTuESDAY, MAY 1,2001 MAKING A DIFFERENCE I* tin « Jason Sandefur explains how his windshield was S^amaged by rocks from a passing ^ruck.Akln does a I';; varied of Jobs, II from registering 'vehicles to taking '« accident reports w to working crime fit scenes. Akin eats dinner as city police officers Jason Judd and Shawn Daubert play pool. Akin socializes with the other troopers and police officers. Trooper Robyn Akin waits In a construction zone along Interstate 135. She was looking for a speeder that had been reported to patrol headquarters. Troopers use radar, but also respond to calls from dispatchers. In her basement apartment. Akin works on a quilt on her day off. She said she started quilting because she wanted to have quilts, then she began making them to give away to friends. On a mission With an angd in her pocket, trooper's dream to fight crime materializes Akin talks with trucker Robert Smith after he pulled a U-turn on Interstate 70. Akin pulls over trucks for reasons ranging from Illegal driving to doing routine Inspections. She said she enjoys meeting the different people she pulls over. Sometimes she'll wave at truckers she recognizes when they come through on their return trips. PHOTO STORY BY KAREN MIKOI^ S he never wears her pantyhose anymore. As a trooper for the Kansas Highway Patrol, Robyn Akin finds her old pantyhose more useful for shining her uniform boots. Akin, 23, is one of five female troopers for the Kansas Highway Patrol, which has more than 400 troopers. Akin said personal goals include stopping criminals and drug runners. "Interdiction is going beyond the traffic stop, investigating everything around you," she said. "1 love to try to find all the pieces of a puzzle and put them together and make sense out of it." Her dedication to stopping drug trafficking comes from personal experience. Over the years, several people close to her have been involved with drugs. "People who have such opportunities in life have destroyed them by drugs," Akin said. "It makes me feel so much better to get that stuff off the street before it gets to anyone." As a trooper. Akin works a variety of assignments ranging from making presentations to schoolchildren to assisting with drug searches. She mainly patrols Saline County, but is also on-call in theI8 counties covered by troopers that are assigned to the Salina Highway Patrol office. Akin works with more seasoned troopers to learn how to identify drug shipments and how to arrest drug suspects. "It helps when the person you are being helped by wants to be there and knows what's going on," said KHP Trooper Craig Davis. "She stops quite a few trucks. I think she would really like to get a big load of dope out of a semi." Akin has wanted to be a trooper for a long time. "She's talked about it since she was in seventh grade," said Beverly Gray, Akin's mother. "She had a strong sense of right and wrong." Akin attended Cloud County Community College in Concordia, graduating with an associate's degree in criminal justice. During her college years, she worked as Akin keeps a guardian angel pin under the flap of her uniform pocket. "I got it from my best friend vrtien I joined," she said. "I thought I lost it, so my roommate got me a new one, but I found It later, so now I have two on me. I hardly get sentimental but I like them. It makes my mom feel better." a corrections officer from midnight to 8 a.m. in the Cloud County jail. College was a way of getting involved with the law, but it also gave her something to do until she was 21, and eligible to apply for. the KHP academy in Salina. "This is what I wanted to do," she said. "I don't like being stuck in the office. I like being out on the road and seeing what's going on." Akin doesn't have any children; she's in the process of a divorce. She's rooming in the basement of a friend's house. She said she enjoys her job but there's still an uncertainty - the danger. It's not something she dwells on. But it's harder for Akin's mother to ignore. "The scariest thing was going up to give her a hug after graduation and feeling a bulletproof vest," Beverly Gray said. "It stops your hearl."
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