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Police Department Welcomes 2 New Officers, Both Combat Veterans

Nelson Orantes served in Iraq and Kalen Brockwalder served in Afghanistan.

Police Department Welcomes 2 New Officers, Both Combat Veterans

Nelson Orantes and Kalen Brockwalder were introduced Monday morning as the newest members of the Novato Police Department.

After being sworn in by Chief Jim Berg, the two officers began a two-week orientation phase, a prelude to an intensive 16-week field training program, according to a release.

Both officers are November graduates of the Basic Police Academy in Windsor. They bring Novato force of sworn officers to 56 with three budgeted openings remaining, Lt. Jennifer Welch said.

Berg said the hiring of combat veterans can yield some important benefits.

"It brings some real-world experience to our officers on the street," he said. "Those officers are often faced with difficult situations that can only be best faced with prior successful experience."

In addition to military skills, combat vets such as Orantes and Brockwalder bring a few intangibles to the team as well, Berg said.

"Often they have a sense of maturity about them because they've seen quite a bit," he said. "They understand discipline, they understand camaraderie and they understand an esprit de corps that are all important parts of a police organization." 

Orantes was born in Guatemala and moved to the United States when he was 6 years old. After settling in Santa Rosa, he attended and graduated from Montgomery High School in June 2003.

In 2003, Orantes enlisted in the United States Marine Corps and completed four tours in Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom over the next two-plus years. He received numerous medals and ribbons and was honorably discharged.

At the Basic Police Academy this fall, he received the top score in shooting as well as the Rotary 4-Way Test award.

Brockwalder is a Sonoma County native and a graduate of Analy High School in Sebastopol. In 2008, Kalen enlisted in the United States Army for which he served as a Special Operations Combat Medic for 2nd Ranger Battalion based out of Fort Lewis, Wash.

During his military career, Brockwalder was deployed three times to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and received numerous commendations and awards. In April 2012, Kalen was honorably discharged as a sergeant and began serving in the California National Guard. At the Basic Police Academy, Brockwalder excelled in many areas and was received honors of being No. 3 in his class in physical fitness.

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