The Belt can be bigger than it seems.
Patrolman Tom Aftanas can affirm that as he᾿s in the process of learning the Belt’s nuances, including its off-site properties. The locations and their nicknames are beginning to become familiar, he said. However, he acknowledges it’s a lot bigger place than he originally thought it was.
“I’m glad to be here and look forward to continuing,” Aftanas said.
While he works the night shift and still hasn’t met all of the Belt’s people, he already has developed a bond with his fellow officers who he initially became acquainted with as a Forest Park (Illinois) Police Department sergeant.
“They’re all good people who are dedicated to law enforcement,” Aftanas said.
He encourages Belt employees to speak up if they see something suspicious.
“Police can’t be everywhere, and we rely on employees to say something if they see something,” Aftanas said.
Respect is a core value for Aftanas, who was raised to treat people the way he wanted to be treated. He said his experience has taught him that treating people respectfully and fairly usually has them respond in kind.
“Sometimes listening is the best thing you can do if someone isn’t being cooperative at first,” Aftanas said.
Away from work, he enjoys fishing and Chicago sports, including the Bears and Blackhawks. He and his sons also collect professional athletes’ autographs, many of which they’ve acquired by attending conventions. In addition to many local heroes, such as Ernie Banks, Tony Esposito, Paul Konerko, Stan Mikita, Ryne Sandberg and Billy Williams, Aftanas has the signatures of baseball legends such as Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Nolan Ryan.
Esposito, who recently passed away, was one of his favorite athletes.
“He was one of the most fan-friendly players I ever met,” Aftanas said.
Police can’t be everywhere, and we rely on employees to say something if they see something.— Patrolman Tom Aftanas