On Dec. 22, Acting Police Chief Alan Nickell was promoted to Chief. The former lieutenant had served as acting chief since illness forced former Chief Tom Clemons into a medical leave of absence before retiring. Chief Nickell first joined the Seward Police Department in 2002, when he was initially hired to work in the city jail.
“Seward offered me a job in the jail, and I took it with the hopes of moving to patrol, and it worked out,” Nickell said. “I wasn’t in the jail very long, and I was able to move to patrol quickly, and I’ve been there ever since.”
Looking back on his 20-year career in the department, Nickell said his fondest memories are of his time as a school resource officer, during which he taught a junior police academy and a criminal justice class.
“It gives us a chance to kind of show the kids of our community that police officers are people too and kind of dispel the myths about us,” he said. “The school resource officer program ended up being a wonderful recruitment tool for us. I think we employed, at one time or another, at least four of my former students. One of them is still employed with us.”
In 2014 Chief Nickell was distinguished with the department’s Life Saving Award for coming to the aid of a cyclist stricken with a heart attack.
“I just happened to be kind of right there as he went down, along with a couple of the teachers from the high school, and we were able to do CPR and get him on an AED (automated external defibrillator),” Nickell recalled. “We were able to keep it going until medics could get there, and we were able to bring him back.”
As Chief, Nickell hopes to continue the trend of adopting new technologies that began when he assumed the role of Acting Chief.
“Since I’ve been Acting, we’ve enacted a lot of changes already,” he said. “The department is getting much, much more technically advanced than it’s ever been, and that’s an ongoing process. This year we’ve added new body cameras, we’ve added new in-car cameras, we’ve added new digital evidence storage all under one umbrella, and with that we’ve added a new CAD (computer aided dispatch) system and a new report management system.”
Other changes are also in the works, including improvements to dispatch and training.
“A lot of internal changes are going to come along,” he said. “We’re really trying to streamline the way that we do things and work very efficiently and just keep up with technology.
Nickell went on to stress that his other primary focus will be community outreach.
“There’s a lot of different programs out there that we’re taking a look at, and actually I would love to hear from the community, what they would like to see us do,” he said. “If there’s something we’ve done in the past or if there’s something that maybe they’ve heard of from somewhere else, we’d love to hear about that. It’s important that we’re part of the community and we’re in the community and the community feels like they can talk to us and rely on us.”
Nickell concluded by saying he will continue to build on the foundations he laid as Acting Chief.
“I feel like I’m really lucky to have such a good bunch of people here,” he said, “and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can all accomplish.”
Chief Nickell welcomes community input and may be reached at (907) 224-3338 or via email at email@example.com.