Meet Donn Tassano. Donn is a Sergeant with the Fremont Police Department.
Well, I chose police work because when I was growing up as a kid my uncle lived with us and he was an officer here. So I saw him from when I was old enough to realize what kind of a job he did and of course they say police officer, little kids get all excited. So I paid attention to what he was doing and I heard his stories when he came home. Saw what he was doing and I started doing ride alongs. So I watched my uncle kind of do his job, met all the people he was working with, got to be friends with them and when I was 18 I took reserve classes at
After high school I went to do my time at school and then go to
A uniform officer, reserve officer is basically part-time. I did that for five years, the last two years of that was in the jail – working in the jail full time and then reserve part-time. And in 1989 became a police officer full-time and have kind of grown in my career since then.
Working at a police department, you are at the same – working for the same company basically, doing the same job. But there are a bunch of varieties of duties you can get. For me starting as a civilian employee in the jail, that was the first full-time job here. When I got hired as an officer in 1989, I did patrol for four or five years, became a field training officer, got back into the reserve organization kind of giving back to what had helped me get started, became a reserve FTO, became a liaison, became the reserve coordinator, was on the SWAT team. Was not only doing entries but then eventually that evolved into a sniper position. Out of the eight years on the SWAT team I was a sniper for five years. And that was an experience. I’ve seen a different view of a SWAT operation.
Was a fraud detective for three years, motor officer in the traffic unit for three years, training Sergeant for three years. Now I’m back in the traffic unit as a Sergeant. So really out of the almost 28 years I’ve been here, I’ve had maybe a total of six, seven, eight years actually on patrol as an officer and then doing all these other varieties of work.
If you do plan on trying to be a CSI for any of the local departments, you really need that chemistry/biology four-year master degree, that kind of an education. There’s a lot of competition in it right now and everybody says, because they’ve seen TV, I want to be a CSI. Well, you have to have that college background, finish school and get that intense education to actually be functional in a crime lab for a Police Department. Whether it’s state, local or federal.
The best piece of advice I have for anybody wanting to become a police officer, we are having trouble now getting good, qualified people. So what you may think is a fun thing to do on a Saturday night with your friends is going to come back on you. So stay clean, keep your background good, do the right thing, do your volunteer work, get your education, keep out of trouble. Those are the kind of things we want. We like life experience but we don’t want illegal life experience. The college education ahead of time is great because then you don’t have to do what I did and go back to school while you are working a shift. For me working midnights, I had to go back to school to finish my four-year degree. And I did it but it was a lot of work. And I’m a different case because I started at 18 so I was still practically finishing high school when I started.
What I tell people now, anybody trying to get hired who’s got some idea they want to be involved in law enforcement is get that education done first. It’s just way easier. And if you had that education already, you had that degree, your potential for promoting faster and pay increases, if you’ve already got your degrees, they come faster.