Mayor awards police officer Award of Excellence for work with people with autism

LINCOLN, Neb. - Over the past few years, Sgt. Cassi Nissen has been going above and beyond the call of duty.

Sgt. Cassi Nissen accepts her award of excellence from Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. (Source: KOLN)

The 13-year veteran of the Lincoln Police Department has helped create several programs that serve and protect the autistic community.

While working full time with L:PD, she's created an autistic safety program, and a "wander flag" data base so caregivers can alert officers about a loved one who is prone to wandering.

"It's been an under-served part of our community and this is a great way for us to show caregivers that we're trying to understand some of the trials that they go through," Nissen said.

Sgt. Nissen also helped bring Project Lifesaver to Lincoln.

"What they have established is now being emulated by other law enforcement agencies, including our neighbor to the east who we like to compare ourselves with all the time, who are following Cassi's lead," said Police Chief Jeff Bliemeister.

For her contributions to the autistic community, and Lincoln as a whole, Nissen was nominated by her captain for the Mayor's Award of Excellence.

"I'm very grateful but I'm basically accepting this award on behalf of everyone whose made this program come to fruition here in Lincoln," Nissen said.

Nissen may be humble about it, but her daughter says she couldn't be prouder.

"It feels good to know my mom has done something good to protect our community and she's getting an award for it," said Leona Nissen, Cassi's daughter.

Nissen says the work doesn't stop just because she won an award. In fact, it makes her want to do more with Project Lifesaver.

"It's important for the community to know that the Police Department is working hard to try to serve all portions of the community," Nissen said. "I want to continue to expand this program. We've only been doing it since October and the turnout has been amazing so this is something Lincoln needs to continue."

With this award, Nissen receives a plaque, a $50 gift card, and a paid day off.

If you would like more information on how to enroll your child in Project Lifesaver, Nissen says you can contact LPD and they will put you in contact with her.