Nick Turner has been in law enforcement for seven years. For four of those years he has been on the DeKalb County S.W.A.T. team. Additionally, he is one of the two hostage negotiators for DeKalb County. He attended specialized schooling for both basic S.W.A.T. and advanced S.W.A.T. hostage rescue.
For six of his seven years on the force, he worked for the Fort Payne Police Department. While there, he was a field training officer. Currently, he holds the position of school resource officer at Plainview High School where he also teaches criminal justice and D.A.R.E. classes.
Students who take the criminal justice class are taught the basic skills of law enforcement. The goal of the class, in part, is to give students the opportunity to consider law enforcement as a career.
One of the topics taught in the criminal justice class is the prescribed procedure that police use to clear a room of suspects. Students are first given instruction and then follow up with role playing both the parts of suspects and police.
The current number of students enlisted in the class is 12, four of which are females. More than half of the students said they would like to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“We need young people to reach out for these positions,” Turner said. “When I teach them, I let them know it is a good feeling to help our community. I also let them know it is a challenging career and I do everything I can to prepare them mentally if they make this their career choice.”
Turner fondly remembers his SRO, Paul Bell, and credits him for his own career choice. Turner did not know he would get the opportunity to be an SRO when he joined the force, but was pleased to take the position when it became available.
Being a parent and having a wife, who is a school teacher, keeps Turner alert to the need for SROs. First, to protect students from harm and secondly, to generate a relationship between the police and youth of today.
Turner is in his mid-20s and feels his age allows him to connect easily to his students.
“It wasn’t that long ago that I was experiencing the same things in life they are now experiencing,” Turner said.
He does not feel overqualified for his current position. “This job deserves tactically-minded and active-shooter trained officers,” he said. “You never know what threat could be imposed on a school.”
– This column, written by Marla Ballard, will appear as a series in the Times-Journal weekend editions to feature DeKalb County School Resource Officers. A series highlighting the SROs in the Fort Payne City School System will follow.