Credit his upbringing: Officer had right stuffFor 25-year-old Scott Bangert, teaching industrial arts was satisfying, but the pull of a law-enforcement career was always in the background.
For 25-year-old Scott Bangert, teaching industrial arts was satisfying, but the pull of a law-enforcement career was always in the background.
And so, after graduating from the University of Northern Iowa with a technology education degree and teaching in that field at a Des Moines high school, Bangert finds himself finishing training as a patrol officer with the River Falls Police Department.
Bangert grew up in what he calls a “pro-law-enforcement family.”
His father was -- and still is -- police chief in Algona, Iowa, population 7,000, about 30 miles from the Minnesota border. That’s the town where Bangert was raised.
“I think there’s a comfort level of growing up in that kind of environment, of being around other dads who are police officers and their kids,” Bangert said.
On becoming a police officer himself, Bangert says: “I like this kind of job because I can be involved in the community, by meeting new people and helping them. As an officer, I want to be able to live up to the standards of the position.”
Police Chief Roger Leque said Bangert’s personality has matured through earning a college degree and holding a teaching position.
“Scott will be a great asset for us,” Leque said. “He’s easy to talk with and is a good communicator. He also has an air of confidence about him.
“Those are traits that will be useful when he has to diffuse certain situations that arise. He has the right communication skills that include listening and understanding, which are needed while dealing with the public.”
Bangert attended a small private college where he played football as a defense lineman and took classes in criminal justice. Then he transferred and the teaching path opened up.
“Some of it was the availability of classes,” he said. “When I was in high school, we had a good industrial arts program. I like hands-on activities, woodshop, and it just kind of snowballed with the teaching while I was at college. At the time it was a good fit.”
At the high school where he taught after college, Bangert often talked with the police liaison officer who was posted there.
“That got me interested in law enforcement again,” he said. “It was always in the back of my mind as something I eventually wanted to do.”
Last month Bangert completed his 520 hours of officer certification instruction at Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire.
With the River Falls Police, he’s been paired with three officers while working his shifts during field training. His current “mentor” is patrol officer Matt Kennett.
Bangert concedes the learning curve is steep.
“From the policies and procedures, to working with people, there’s quite a bit of knowledge to grasp for this job,” he said.
Bangert said his new colleagues have made the transition easier.
“They’ve all supported me as I’ve started out fresh,” he said. “They showed patience yet made sure I’d do things correctly.”
Bangert said handling people “…whose emotions are high, especially during medical calls,” has been the biggest challenge.
“You know, it could be someone who faints at EconoFoods or whatever. The ambulance is called, you also respond and are trying to assist a person who needs help, but is also very worked up and on edge,” Bangert said.
Bangert and his wife, Natassia, were only married five months ago. They now live in River Falls. She works as a special education teacher in New Richmond.
“In terms of our jobs and our living situation, this is the happiest we’ve been,” Bangert says. “This is a great community. It’s safe, there’s a good school district, and it seems like a good place to raise a family.”
Bangert likes to hunt, fish and camp. He’s also is a college football fan but admits it’s been painful to watch the late-season collapse of his team, the Iowa Hawkeyes.
Bangert and his wife try to keep in close touch with family members and relatives who live in Iowa, northern Michigan and Minnesota.