The first time I met Dan was over dinner at Mi Cocina. The meal was the team introduction meeting where Betty pulled us all together. Since this is an SMU trip and these were SMU graduate students, I assumed that I would be the only one who needed an introduction. But, it just so happened that most of the students had no prior connection. So, we quickly bonded over Mexican food.
Dan was at the other end of the long table. Toward the end of the meal, I watched as a majority of the female members of our team quietly passed their plates down to Dan. After the second or third one made its way that direction, I heard Dan’s wife, Allison, explain that it takes a lot of food to keep Dan going.
If you could meet him in person, you would understand why. Dan is a big guy. And I’m not just saying that because I’m a little guy. Dan works hard at staying in shape and physically ready for the demands of his job as a Senior Corporal with the Dallas Police Department. Although his size is imposing, Dan works hard at being a reachable presence when he’s working the streets of Dallas.
Daniel Russell is a native of Snohomish, Washington, where he developed his love for the outdoors. A graduate of Central Washington University, he earned two bachelor degrees with honors — Psychology and Law & Justice with a specialization in Law Enforcement.
While still in Washington, Dan served as a Reserve Sheriff’s Deputy for the Kittitas County Sheriff’s Office and completed the police academy while in school full time and working part time. He later served as a patrol deputy and as a part-time School Resource Officer at a middle school and high school.
Love brought Dan to Texas. He met his wife, Allison, in the summer of 2005 and, upon graduation from university, he moved to Texas to be closer to her. The couple married in 2012. Upon arrival in Texas in 2008, Dan joined the Dallas Police Department and is now assigned to the Central Patrol Crime Response Team, a pro-active crime reduction unit. In addition, he is a Field Training Officer. As a result of his passion for his job and a great deal of hard work, Dan has received the Certificate of Merit on four occasions and has been awarded a number of commendations recognizing his dedication and skills.
Dan is currently a graduate student in the Southern Methodist University program in Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management.
He and his wife, Allison, are both members of the Africa team. They live in Dallas with their two-year old golden retriever, Brisbane. The couple will celebrate their second anniversary while in Africa with the team!
Dan’s interests outside of work include weight training, physical fitness, hiking, reading, traveling, and what he calls “nerdy science fiction trivia.” A fan of Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica, and Harry Potter, he would make an awesome partner in Trivial Pursuits.
As I have come to know Dan, I’ve come to appreciate his intentional way of dealing with conflict. He brings a balance to his work and to his life. Dealing with everyone and everything with respect seems to be his goal. This snapshot is symbolic of that emphasis. Answering a call to deal with a “threatening pit bull,” Dan encountered this guy — complete with spiked collar and a “Beware of the Dog” sign. Approaching the dog in a reassuring manner led to the friendly encounter you see here. In all likelihood, it also saved the dog’s life.
In our last team meeting, Dan was talking about how hard it is to shift back and forth from police officer to peacemaker. Then he explained that he was able to reconcile the two by viewing himself as a full-time peace officer. Still, there remains a tension.
Dan said, “I try very hard to take my ‘cop’ persona off when I get home, and struggle with that at times. Brisbane keeps me balanced, and reminds me that there are still pure things in this world, like the unadulterated love of a dog. Allison is who makes me want to be a better person, and not allow myself to dwell too long on all the injustice that is hidden in the shadows that must be dealt with.”
Personally, I can’t think of a better person to deal with that injustice nor a better man of peace to partner with on this mission to Africa. Just another example of our awesome team members!