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Lonnie Nelson Retires after 30 Years of Service


On Thursday, September 1, 2011, the Irvine Police Department said goodbye to Senior Public Safety Assistant Lonnie Nelson as he embarks on the next chapter of his life, his “To-Do” list.  Lonnie’s more than thirty years of service were celebrated Thursday during a Delta Shift Briefing, packed with current and previously retired personnel.  One by one, Lonnie’s co-workers and friends stood up to tell stories and wish him well.

Lonnie began his career with the Irvine Police Department in 1979 as a Reserve Police Officer.  In 1984, he was hired as a civilian employee and worked a number of positions over the years such as Field Report Writer, Traffic Investigator and Custody Officer while continuing to volunteer as a Reserve Officer at night.  In 1994 Lonnie took his current position as the Senior Public Safety Assistant at the Business Desk.

Recently, Lonnie was asked to speak about an exciting or funny memory.  He told two stories.  The first was the story of a night on patrol in 1984.  He had just promoted to Senior Reserve Officer which meant he was going “Ten-Eight” or “in service” solo for the first time.  At that time, the Police Department was on the corner of McGaw Avenue and Jamboree Road.  He remembered the route he drove as he worked his way to MacArthur Boulevard when he saw a license plate familiar to him.  The Sergeant had just alerted everyone at briefing the vehicle was wanted in an armed robbery.  And now, he was behind that vehicle!   It was his first night as a Senior Reserve Officer, his first stop of the night and it was a “Nine-Sixty – X-ray” or Felony Car Stop - the kind of high-risk situation officers train for, but rarely actually find themselves in.  It was definitely a memorable arrest.

The funny story he told occurred during his assignment as a Custody Officer.  One night he was out at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheater (now Verizon Wireless Amphitheater) picking up some prisoners to book at the station. He entered the jail to find a hose, running into the safety cell through its closed door.  The water was on, and inside were two unexpected residents, the Watch Commander and an officer who were trying to clean out the cell when the door closed on them and locked them in.  There are two different versions as to the length of time the two had been locked in but both versions were great for a laugh!

Over the years, Lonnie has taken on many different collateral assignments in addition to his daily responsibilities including: logistics positions for the SWAT team, the Community Police Academy coordinator, Department Armorer, and Dispatch Call-taker. He received the Reserve Officer of the Year in 1984, a Meritorious Service Award in 1988, Employee of the Quarter in 1995, and a Unit Commendation as part of the SWAT Team in 2005.

There is no way to count the number of employees and community members Lonnie has touched during his career.  The thousands of reports and phone calls, the trainees and the personnel who have always counted on being able to “call up and ask Lonnie” because they knew he would know the answer.  You can see the results of his training and mentoring throughout the department in the faces of so many employees who got their start at the Business Desk and have since promoted into different roles. 

Lonnie’s wealth of knowledge and his dedication to the department will surely be missed!