Don Swanson Answers the Call of Duty
Don Swanson makes his living as a software engineer, but he’s also a reserve police officer for the City of Livermore who has volunteered an average of 900 hours a year for the city since 2007.
As a level II reserve officer, Don usually works a solo patrol car and performs general law enforcement tasks, including covering officer duties, transporting prisoners, providing critical intervention, traffic control, and other community service tasks. He is a member of Livermore Police Department’s (LPD’s) Crisis Negotiation Team, Force Options Unit Range Staff, and is currently in the process of becoming a Field Training Officer supporting the Reserve Unit.
“I work just about every Friday from 4:00 pm until at least 3:00 am the next day. Once in a while, I’ll work a Saturday or a night during the week as special assignments come up,” says Don. “It doesn’t feel like a job to me, so the lack of pay isn’t a factor. I love it.”
That’s right. Don puts himself in harm’s way for no compensation.
“I’m very passionate about volunteering,” explains Don. “I wouldn’t want it to become a ‘job.’ I think that might take away some of the passion I have for it.” Although a volunteer, Don is required to have the same annual training as regular full-time officers—more than 40 hours, including first aid, emergency vehicle operations, range training and qualifications, and defensive tactics.
It was a sense of civic duty, a desire to help people, and a boyhood dream that propelled Don into the reserve ranks. “I have always had an interest in law enforcement,” says Don. “I remember in first grade telling my teacher I wanted to be a police officer when I grew up.”
But childhood career aspirations are so often fleeting. Don says he became interested in computers and software in high school and decided to pursue that field in college. It wasn’t until 2005 when an LLNL colleague told Don about LPD’s Citizen’s Police Academy that Don’s interest in law enforcement was reawakened.
Several formal training programs later, Don found himself spending his evening hours and weekends in a reserve officer academy. He worked for a few months as a reserve deputy sheriff in Contra Costa County before transitioning to the City of Livermore. “I’m honored to be able to volunteer in the city where I grew up and where I live and work,” says Don.
Since becoming a reserve officer eight years ago, Don has received multiple captain’s commendations. In 2015, he responded to two separate calls for service that ended as life-saving events. “Those are the moments that make all the hard work worthwhile,” he says.
Don has been at LLNL for 28 years. He is a group leader in Computation and the associate program lead for the Business Enablement Acquisition and Asset Management IT team. The team develops and supports the business enablement applications for Supply Chain Management, Asset Management, Facilities and Infrastructure (F&I), and Telecommunications Infrastructure. Don is currently involved in several projects, including F&I application upgrades related to work process and controls.
Don expects to continue the many facets of his work into the foreseeable future.
“I really enjoy helping people, whether here at the Lab or on the streets of Livermore—but working as a police officer provides a sense of purpose at a higher level. I’m committed to doing my best for my community to protect and serve,” he says. “It’s an incredibly rewarding experience.”
I work with an amazing team of software engineers and information technology professionals, and together we design and implement software solutions that allow the Lab to achieve its mission and goals.
I love being in an environment that has endless opportunities and challenges for individuals to thrive and make a difference.
In my time away from the Lab, I volunteer as a reserve police officer for the city of Livermore.