When it was time for him to choose a career, Sargent Nicholas Yanez never doubted he wanted to be part of the Police Department: "Ever since I was little, I always knew I wanted to help people in my community." Yanez, who is originally from Texas, first served his country in the Air Force and he later decided to settle in a city where the services of a bilingual police officer were needed.
This was possible because his mother was born in Colorado while his father was born in Mexico City, which meant Yanez grew up while immersed in both cultures, acknowledging the value of speaking English and Spanish.
"Public service has always been one of my top priorities," said Yanez, who enrolled at the Omaha Police Academy in the 1990s: "Back then Texas had several bilingual police officers, but I noticed that there weren't enough officers who spoke both languages and who could help the many Latino people who were arriving - this made it easier for me to get a job." For someone aspiring to have a career like Yanez, he has a piece of advice: "Lead a clean life and help people all the time. It doesn't matter if you're only 12 years of age, you must know how to help others." On top of this, Yanez emphasized that having good grades at school is a must, as well as "respecting authority, be that from a teacher or our parents."
And even though the Omaha Police Department (OPD) accepts applicants with a secondary school level education, for Yanez "there is nothing better than coming prepared with a college education."
Even though it's a dangerous profession, Sargent Yanez acknowledges he has never thought about quitting: "For me, this is the best job in the world, and God has given me a beautiful family!"
After 22 years of marriage, with a wife who supports him in all of his commitments and three gorgeous girls at home, Yanez goes out on the streets giving it his all as the person in charge of the Robbery Unit: "Theft is a tricky issue since it is a crime that can affect anyone and that can't be fully prevented in our daily life - even I have been the victim of theft."
In order to avoid it there are certain things you can do, such as having your car keys in hand as you exit work, especially at night, check the surrounding area and avoid any distractions, such as using your cellphone: "This doesn't mean you should leave in fear, it means you should take precautions."
On that note, the many years of experience of Sgt. Yanez have given him a solid perspective on reality: "People who commit theft are looking for an easy target, someone who won't be giving them any trouble."
Unfortunately, because of this, women and young people are the most vulnerable ones: "If someone has already been the victim of theft, the best thing they can do is be a good witness. This means remembering all the information of the incident and calling 911 right away."
According to Sgt. Yanez, crimes like these are not common on the streets of Omaha, but they do happen at stores and banks: "We are talking about theft with violence or with some type of intimidation."
And then there is carjacking with describes the violent theft of a vehicle: "These cases can be very dangerous, and it is advised that the victim surrenders the vehicle without any resistance or without trying to fight since their life is in danger."
Speaking of vehicles, Sargent Yanez shared an alarming statistic: "In 2013, there were 38 accidents in Nebraska caused by teenagers at the wheel, and in the same year there were 653 accidents in which the driver was using his/ her cell phone."
For 2015 the numbers increased and stats show that, in Nebraska, there were over 4,000 accidents in which the driver was not focused on the road, and 12 of them had fatal consequences: "The United States National Security Council said that every year there are over 1.6 million accidents in the country in which the driver was using his/her cellphone while driving. One in every four traffic accidents at the national level was caused because someone was texting while driving."
To conclude, Yanez sent a message to the community, particularly to young people: "Please don't use your cellphone to text while driving. Stats show that 11 teenagers die every day because of this."
Sgt. Nicholas Yanez / OPD