It takes most of us years of self-reflection, discovery, and experience to figure out what we want to do in life.
But Brian Nolff knew from the time he was 5-years-old.
"Being a police officer was something I always wanted to do, ever since I was a little kid," said Nolff. "And I'm lucky becuase I get to go actually live out the dream."
It's a dream that's now lasted for 28 years, all of them spent with the Dallas Police Department.
And in that time, his commanders say he's repeatedly gone above and beyond the call of duty.
In April 2017, for example, he caught wind that the Dallas Honor Guard needed some financial help to get to Washington DC, so they could participate in a National Police Memorial event.
Without hesitation, Nolff stepped up and began raising money for them -- and was later able to hand them $7,000.
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There was another time he was out on patrol -- and noticed that several kids in his beat area were wearing worn down shoes. It bothered him. So he and several officers got together and launched an intiative called "Share the Shoes".
By the time it was all said and done, they were able to dole out 600 pairs of new shoes to families across Dallas.
And then there was that evening he went to a National Night Out event at a local hotel. As he pulled up, hotel staff directed him towards the pool, where attendees had just pulled an unresponsive boy out of the water.
The paramedics had not yet arrived -- and Nolff could see that an adult trying to perform CPR on the boy was not doing it correctly. So he jumped in and took over until an ambulance got there. Doctors said his actions helped save the boy's life that night.
"You have a platform as an officer," said Nolff. "And if you see that need out there -- a kid needs a pair of shoes or an officer needs help with something -- I think it's on us to go the extra mile and just help each other out."
It's that approach to policing that caught the attention of a local business organization called "Success North Dallas" -- which annually selects a Dallas Officer of the Year.
When they heard about Nolff, the choice was a no-brainer.
"The quality of this officer's work is impressive and inspirational," said Jan Klodner, a member of the selection committee.
They presented him with a plaque and other momentos at a special breakfast in his honor Wednesday.
Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall and her command staff also presented him with a special bar that he'll be able to wear on his uniform distinguishing him as an Officer of the Year.
"He is the epitome of excellence, community engagement, and building trust and legitimacy in our community," said Hall.
Not one to seek the spotlight, Nolff gave a lot of the credit for his own successes to his fellow officers and their support. But he said he appreciated honor.
"To get this award -- it's incredible to be able to represent the department this way," said Nolff.
Nolff becomes the 17th Dallas Police officer to win Officer of the Year.