Fargo police officer David Carlson turned his life around at the Ranch. Now he's back to help Ranch boys and girls do the same.
Meet David Carlson. As a "Police Trust Officer," David is on special assignment, working to reach at-risk kids in the Fargo area. His goal? To foster better relationships between young people and law enforcement. And no one is better qualified than David.
You see, David is a former resident and staff member who worked at the Ranch for six years. Because of that, he not only has a special connection with the Ranch, he has genuine understanding of what our kids are going through.
David says, "I'm here to share my story and give them a positive role model in their life. I also want to change their perception. I want the youth to see past the uniform."
But more than that, David says, "Partnering with Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch is paying forward all of the good things that happened when I was here. It's a way for me to participate with the kids who may not realize that if you make good choices, you can be successful in life. I was in their shoes," he says, "so I know how they feel. I can say, 'Hey, listen, you made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes. You can move on from this.' Wearing this uniform is a way for me to show these kids that we don't just come to your house to arrest you. We're also there because we care about you and we want to help you."
David visits the Ranch as often as he can -- at least once a week. He sits at different tables with the kids so they can start knowing his face, his name and feel more at ease around him. "Hopefully," he says, "they'll feel more comfortable reaching out to us."
David has learned that, for kids at the Ranch, it's all about being a positive role model and sharing his story, so they can see they have choices, the power to turn their lives around, and the ability to be successful in whatever they want to do.
"I know tons of former residents who are successful," he says. "If you can put a smile on a kid's face, change a behavior, change a perception, or be a positive influence in their life, that's all that matters."