By Ivan Raconteur
LESTER PRAIRIE, MN Officer Preston Voigt, the newest member of the Lester Prairie Police Department, said there was never any doubt that law enforcement would be his career choice.
“I have wanted to be a cop my whole life. I can’t remember not wanting to be a cop,” Voigt commented.
He grew up in Norwood Young America, but his father is a Lester Prairie resident, and Voigt is very familiar with the area.
“This is an opportunity to be part of a great department,” Voigt commented. “I’m very lucky to be have the opportunity to serve this community.”
At just 22 years of age, Voigt knows that he will have to earn the respect of the community, but says he has more experience than some officers his age.
After high school, he spent a year in college in North Dakota working on general requirements before completing two years of law enforcement training at Alexandria Technical College.
He also received EMT training in Alexandria, and was a member of the Norwood Fire Department for two years.
After graduation, he spent a year working for the Wolf Protective Agency, a private security company, working the mean streets of North Minneapolis.
He said his training and physical conditioning are important to him.
“I want to be the best I can be for the City of Lester Prairie,” Voigt commented.
He explained that law enforcement requires a great deal of commitment in terms of time, training, and sacrifices, but, “Once your license is activated, a weight is lifted. It is very gratifying,” Voigt said.
He joined the Lester Prairie Police Department as a part-time officer in April, and was promoted to full-time status in May.
“I’m happy to be here. I know the community well, and I plan to be here for a long time,” Voigt said.
He also had praise for the other members of the department.
“The community is lucky to have Sergeant (Mark) Thiry and Chief (Bob) Carlson working here,” Voigt commented. “They go above and beyond to serve the city.”
He said he wants to become more a part of the community, and will look for ways to get involved.
He would especially like to find ways to help with the Lester Prairie football program, which he says would be a way for him to interact with the students.
The former high school and college nose tackle is used to approaching things head-on, but he wants people to know that he is approachable and is here to help.
“I want people to know that they can talk to me,” he said, and added that he understands what young people are going through.
“I was there four years ago,” Voigt said.
Young or old, Voigt wants people to know that he wants to help.
“I’m not here to ding people, I’m here to educate people,” Voigt said. “I have a lot of resources that can help people. I’m not here to give people tickets and give them a bad day. It’s not all about throwing handcuffs on people.”
Voigt said he was raised to treat people the way he would like to be treated, and that is the way he will approach his job.
“All I ask for is respect,” Voigt said. “I have my job to do, but if you really have a problem, you can come and talk to me. There is always a helping hand for those who need it.”
When he is not on duty, Voigt enjoys hunting, fishing, and spending time outdoors. He also enjoys weight lifting, training, and socializing with friends.
He added that he is still a young guy, and also likes to play video games.
Sometimes, he likes to mow the lawn and just relax.
He has been on the job a relatively short time, but Voigt is working hard to make a difference in the community and in his department.