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By Caroline Downs
Seth Engelstad started his new position as a patrol officer for the Kenmare Police Department January 16th, and had the opportunity to meet a number of local residents when he worked the Kenmare Fire Department Coyote Tournament Friday and Saturday nights.
He might not remember all the names yet, but he was pleased to participate in a community event so quickly. That was the way he preferred to begin his career in law enforcement.
“I’ve always been involved in the community,” he said. “The last five years, I’ve been a member of a volunteer fire department and before that, it’s been coaching.”
Engelstad arrived in Kenmare from Moorhead, MN, where he grew up, attended college and taught school. His first degree in education from Minnesota State University-Moorhead allowed him to teach social studies and coach a variety of sports for kids of all ages. He also earned a master’s degree in education from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
He enjoyed teaching for nine years, but arrived at a crossroads in his career. “I’ve always wanted to do law enforcement, too,” he said. “With the master’s degree, I was looking at going into [school] administration, and I’d reached a point in my life where if I wanted to do law enforcement, I thought I’d better do it if I could get through it.”
He attended a two-year law enforcement education program in Minnesota and completed academy training as well. While his ultimate goal is to return to the classroom as a law enforcement instructor someday, he would like to spend the next 15 or 20 years in uniform.
Engelstad enjoyed teaching, but he was seeking variety in his work. “I wanted more interaction and more involvement with the whole community,” he said, then smiled. “Although I still have my North Dakota [teaching] certification, and I may sub in the schools here.”
He enjoyed the Moorhead area, but for the past 10 years or so, he has visited Kenmare and the northwest region of North Dakota on a regular basis to see friends from Berthold and Stanley and hunt for upland gamebirds. “I also have an uncle in Minot, so I’ve been coming to this area for a while,” he said.
Engelstad interviewed for several law enforcement jobs in North Dakota, but the Kenmare community appealed to him, as did the housing provided by the city. “That was one of the selling factors,” he said, “and I wanted to stay outside of Minot.”
He already joined the Kenmare Fire Department and is considering ways to lend his coaching and officiating abilities to the school and local recreation programs, once he gets accustomed to his new schedule.
He is looking forward to his job around town. He is aware of the new ordinance book which will soon be adopted by the city, and he is interested in educating new and longtime Kenmare residents about the significance and impact of any new ordinances.
Conducting the before- and after-school patrols are also important to him, as well as opportunities to visit with students at school. “It would be nice to go into the classrooms and talk about the local ordinances and the signs up around town and what those mean,” he said, adding that a police officer could help illustrate points the teachers already discuss about community safety. “We want to let the kids know who we are and how we help the community, and how they can help us.”
Engelstad joins officer Jason Cartier and chief of police Gary Kraft at the Kenmare Police Department. They can be reached any time at 701-385-4411.