Carson City Sheriff’s D.A.R.E. Officer Lisa Davis throws collectible items from the stage at the 16th annual National Night Out event, hosted by the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, in Carson City, Nevada, on Tuesday, August 7, 2018.
Photo by Cathleen Allison/Nevada Momentum

For more than 15 years, Lisa Davis served as the D.A.R.E. officer for Carson City. Her last day is Thursday as she and her husband Bob will be relocating to Oregon. She leaves Carson City with many accomplishments in providing children guidance and away from falling into the trap of alcohol and drugs.

“Lisa has gone above and beyond with the challenges of the drug education program in our schools,” said Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong.

He noted that when she took on the job in 2005, under the direction of him and undersheriff Steve Albertsen and worked in the schools, she built a foundation that only strengthened over time, expanding the program to include National Night Out, which has earned national recognition, as well as coordinating the annual Cops and Kids spring event at the sheriff’s office.

“Losing Lisa will have a huge impact on us. She is leaving us a very well-rounded program and really big shoes to fit into,” said Furlong.

Davis came to Carson City at the urging of a former colleague, Scott McDaniel, now a retired CCSO sergeant, back in 2005. McDaniel noted that her strength in working with children and families is that she is straight and to the point. She listened to them, embraced them with the message but also wasn’t going to take a lot of guff, either.

“It’s those kids who she taught to stay on the path and the parents of those kids who she worked with, I know do appreciate everything she did,” said McDaniel.

Friend and former colleague Lani McKinley calls Davis a “caring, thoughtful, generous, dedicated and remarkable woman” who has given in many ways to the community.

“It goes without saying the thousands of students Lisa had a positive impact on teaching D.A.R.E.. Lisa worked tirelessly year in and year out with class preparation and schedules to make sure not one child went without for 5th grade D.A.R.E.,” said McKinley. “My youngest daughter had Lisa for D.A.R.E. her first year teaching, she is now 25 years old and working toward a Master’s Degree. I can honestly say Lisa had a positive impact on my child’s education and her chosen profession, school counseling. Even now as young adults, students she has taught over the years still come up to her for a hug, to say hello, or for advice. Lisa is never too busy to spend time with them.”

We asked Lisa a few questions about the experience, what she’s learned along the way and how she was able build a program based on relationships and trust.

What is your background in law enforcement? Explain where you worked and what you did from your youth onward.

I grew up in New Mexico. My dad was a city police officer and my step-dad was a sheriff, so I grew up in and around law enforcement. I was “voluntold” to work at the sheriff’s office while in junior high and high school, and college (when I was home on vacations). I worked on any and everything – meal preparation for inmates, running errands – making coffee getting water, etc. for the deputies and citizens during crisis situations, completing fingerprint cards (before the age of computers), etc. When I was in high school and college I dispatched and booked inmates into jail, went on calls with the deputies. I majored in Criminal Justice and went on to be an adult probation and parole officer. I have also been a juvenile probation officer in Elko.

How did you get to Carson City?

My husband accepted a teaching position and moved us to Elko where I became juvenile probation officer. I went through P.O.S.T. here in Carson City and told my husband that I loved the community and the weather. (Retired CCSO sergeant) Scott McDaniel was a deputy and we were both assigned to the Spring Creek area.

Later, Scott moved to Carson City. Sheriff Furlong and Retired Undersheriff Steve Albertsen wanted to implement a D.A.R.E. program and other community policing services. Their first attempt proved to be very difficult, so Scott recommended they consider hiring me. And, the rest is history. I started work in Carson City in 2005 and have been working here for 15.5 years. I have a total of 23 paid years in law enforcement, not counting the years I volunteered.

Your duties in Carson City were many, you are the D.A.R.E. officer, but you also were national night out event coordinator and Cops and Kids coordinator, lining up organizations to help keep our kids safe. How did you make it work?

This job has always been about relationships. I started this position the same way I have always started something – on my knees in prayer. This time, it was obvious that not only was I coming full circle but that this assignment would be much bigger than me so I dedicated it to God before my first day. My absolute favorite part of this experience was working in prevention and instructing youth on real life lessons.

When I was first hired at the sheriff’s office, there was absolutely no positive relationship between law enforcement and youth because all prevention services including D.A.R.E. had been removed from the community under previous sheriff administrations. Cops and youth both intensely disliked each other.

It is not like that now, but in the beginning I had to build the bridge through things such as D.A.R.E. and Cops and Kids Sheriff’s Open House/Safety Fair. It was my job to make it fun and to build the relationships and trust that made it safe for kids to like officers.

We have successfully used a variety of tools to reach youth — Character Counts, D.A.R.E., safety fairs, special events including National Night Out, Red Ribbon Campaign, Halloween Safety to name a few. All of the programs I administered grew and actually became huge — much bigger than me. And, I had to pray more.

The most important pieces of this job was the real prevention lessons with youth through Character Counts and D.A.R.E. which is where many relationships were built. When working with the kids, I was allowed to be myself – to be real which made it safe for them to be real, too. I could be out and about or in a school and would be myself, then become instantly boring when I got back to the office — funny how that worked.

Children need to know that law enforcement officers are not the boogey man and that law enforcement officers are here to help them. If they are afraid of a cop then they might not ask for help. They also need a spiritual belief, good role models, lessons that they can come back to when times are tough.

They also need to know that life is all about choices — whether it is about using drugs and alcohol, stealing a candy bar or skipping school. Youth need to know that if they make a mistake, they can learn from it and do better in the future.

You’ve seen many successes in the classroom. What’s it like to see these kids grown up now knowing you made an impact on their lives?

It is pure delight for me to see past students doing well, working, going to college and achieving their hopes and dreams! I have had former students working announce to the waiting line in stores, “She was my D.A.R.E. Officer and look how good I’m doing!” Others have held up drive through fast food places to buy my frappe, introduce me to their managers, to tell me they are doing well. Of course, most of that credit belongs to their parents and families, but it is deeply touching to know that they count me as a part of their success. I am always amazed at how many students remember me. Sometimes they even quote some of the things I said in class — it is just such an honor!

Just as moving are the students who tell me that they messed up and got help because of something they remembered I said in class. They will describe finding a D.A.R.E. graduation card or something and they remember something said in a lesson. Seeing those kids make a come-back is also very rewarding. It really is all about relationships.

What wishes for the community do you have as we move through difficult time?

It breaks my heart to see so many people discouraged, stressed, and looking lost. I ache inside for the people. I would encourage people not to fear, and to connect with their spiritual life and to reconnect with each other. When I was “sent home” over the fear of this virus, I needed the rest. I spent time reading my Bible, praying, thinking and really reconnecting with myself. My prayer for the people of Carson City is that everyone take some time to have such a revival or a time to gain a different perspective — get to know yourself and hit the reset button if needed. We do not have to receive a spirit of fear because we have been given a spirit of power, and of love and a sound mind – it is up to us to choose to use it!

What has the Carson City Community meant to you?

As a community, Carson City has been such a fantastic community to serve and I am very much going to miss working with students, parents, businesses, agencies and civic groups. I cannot thank everyone enough for the help, sponsorships, the support that Carson City has shown me over the years. People like Dave and Lyn Cox, the school district teachers and administrators, the ladies from the Emblem Club who helped with every undertaking, the Elks, the Eagles, Liz Booth, the churches, Northern Nevada Coin, Kadee Mason, Carson Now, the entire business community and associations – this list could go on and on. How does one say thank you for all of that? I want to thank God because every time the job was bigger than me he gave me the answer. And I must thank Sheriff Ken Furlong and retired Undersheriff Steve Albertsen.

My support has always been in the community. We have built some fabulous relationships. For me, this has all been about THE PEOPLE and I truly, deeply love the people of this community. As I answer this question, I realize that my heart is overflowing with gratitude to the people of Carson City and I will miss our relationships. I simply cannot say thank you enough.

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