Nebraska Airman uses police career to mentor

Officer David Nelson, Lincoln Police Department resource officer, patrols the front exit during school dismissal at North Star Hight School, Feb. 11, 2020 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Nelson is a 18-year veteran with the Nebraska Air National Guard Security Forces. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. R. Denise Mommens)

His attitude is the same, no matter which uniform he wears or what role he is in at the time. He is a protector. He is a servant. From his warm, friendly smile, his presence says he is here to help. This is how he approached his entire 22-year military career.

“Initially, I joined the Marine Corp to have a better resume for becoming a police officer,” said Senior Master Sgt. David Nelson,155th Security Forces Squadron superintendent. “Once I joined the Marine Corp, I heard about the Air National Guard, which I had never heard about before in my life, so I thought it would be a better fit. I switched over and I’ve loved it since.”

Nelson has spent 18 years with the 155th Security Forces Squadron, and in that time he has deployed five times.

Nelson said he remembers what specifically caught his interest to join the Air National Guard.

“I had a friend that went to the Air National Guard,” said Nelson. “I think the opportunity to do more of my civilian job-related skills during my drill weekends was the luring factor that drew me closer to it.”

Nelson is a17-year veteran on the Lincoln Police Department, but for the last two years he serves as the LPD resource officer at North Star High School. Nelson said his military training in active shooter scenarios and in drug related situations gives him a different perspective than the police department.

From his antiterrorism officer training, he applies those principles to his role at the high school.

“This gives the opportunity to look at the school as being a structure, and the resource as being the kids. They’re exactly the same, just different assets,” said Nelson. “You’re able to apply the ability to look for those vulnerabilities the same way you would in the military. Well, the kids are just as important. I look at them the same way.”

Nelson said being at the high school can give students a positive role model. Nelson said as a senior, he made the decision himself to become a police officer after a ride-along opportunity with local law enforcement.

Nelson said it is important to build good relationships with students, and with that in mind, he hopes to inspire a few students to consider a career in the Air National Guard.

“Most people spend years trying to get the same amount of experience that you can get in one deployment or tech school,” said Nelson. “Get rid of preconceived notions of going to war. Look at the benefits that will never be afforded to you without joining the military. There are so many opportunities for life-skills, job skills, and just cultural exposure that without being in the military, you would never get a chance to experience.”

Nelson said he is responsible for training and supervising over 40 Airmen one weekend every month on negotiation scenarios, safe use of firearms, and base defending tactics which now includes electronic warfare with the elevated use of drones.

Nelson said he gets a sense of satisfaction in both the military and the civilian roles, because to him, they compliment each other.

“I keep doing the job because I love it. Both of them! They complement each other in a way that gains me both job satisfaction and specialty skills that one or the other does not offer,” said Nelson. “Every day is different than the previous. You have no idea what the day will bring and have to be prepared for whatever it throws at you.”