SHELDON—Sam Kooiker remembers interacting with Sheldon police officer Scott DeGoei when he was a teenager “cruising the loop.”
“He would take the time to interact with us teenagers and give us a very positive impression of law enforcement,” Kooiker said.
The 45-year-old Sheldon city manager moved back to his adopted hometown — he grew up in rural Boyden — in December and for a few months he was able to work with DeGoei, who retired from the force on June 30.
“It has been a privilege working with him, sorry to see him go,” Kooiker said. “He leaves a long and proud legacy.”
The city of Sheldon held a retirement open house June 19 after a city council meeting and dozens came out to tip their hat to DeGoei.
Although the 61-year-old Sheldon native became involved in law enforcement later in life, he still managed to have a productive 32-year career.
DeGoei joined the Sheldon Police Force on June 1, 1987, shortly after he earned his police science degree from Western Iowa Tech Community College in Sioux City.
He became an officer because he was looking to make a change in his life.
“I wanted something different,” DeGoei said. “I was on the farm for a while and that was during one of the farm deals that wasn’t good; then I went to packing house in Hospers for a while.”
He did not like that job “so I decided I was looking for a change.”
Becoming a cop proved to be the right call for DeGoei and gave him plenty of variety each day.
While giving a speech honoring DeGoei at the June 19 Sheldon City Council meeting, police chief Lyle Bolkema noted his former colleague could write a book about his experiences.
When asked about his most memorable call, DeGoei said there have been many “good ones.”
After thinking about it and narrowing it down, DeGoei said a stabbing call on which he assisted officer Rob Hegenbarth — he can’t recall the exact year — sticks out to him the most.
“It was deemed self-defense, but one subject did die and it ended up being no charges filed,” he said.
“That was an intense moment. Obviously, a guy who was stabbed repeatedly taking his last gasps of air; that’s just a stressful call. I’ve had a lot of interesting calls.”
Another call that stands out to him was being the first person on the scene after Joshua Rook was found lying in the street in April 2018. The 32-year-old Sheldon man later was pronounced dead.
“I get over there and he was lying there and I administered CPR on him for an extended period of time until the ambulance got there even though I knew he was not going to make it; he was gone,” DeGoei said.
“I still did CPR on him until I literally couldn’t do CPR anymore. When you know something bad has just happened and you know there’s probably nothing you are going to be able to do about it, that’s a tough call.”
Sheldon Fire Co. first assistant chief Brad Hindt has been on hand for some of those delicate calls with DeGoei, who he has interacted since he first joined the department more than 25 years ago.
“He is a very thorough officer and he took his job serious,” Hindt said. “Very detail-oriented and he knew a lot of stuff that was going on. If you needed to know something about somebody, he had the information for you.”
Sioux Center city manager Scott Wynja, who stopped by the June 19 open house, recalled working alongside DeGoei during his 14-year tenure as Sheldon’s city manager.
“He served the community extremely well and was very well respected,” Wynja said. “His service to the community should be commended.”
DeGoei noted a lot of people are truly unaware of the things happening in smaller communities.
“I don’t think the public has any clue of what’s really going on in small towns in Iowa,” he said. “The amount of drugs that are readily available; the amount of people that have guns and you never know when you walk up to someone what’s going to happen.”
Another element of his job most people have no idea about? Playing dogcatcher.
“One of the least favorite parts of the job for 32 years is dog hunting,” DeGoei said. “No question.”
He said officers are called frequently to look for missing dogs and other animals.
“We get calls on roosters, on groundhogs and sometimes a deer in the backyard — yeah, there’s a lot of deer in this town in the middle of the night, you’d be surprised by how many you almost run into — we chased a possum the other day for a while,” DeGoei said.
While he will not miss acting as a member of Sheldon’s de facto animal control unit, two aspects DeGoei will miss most are his colleagues across the area law enforcement spectrum and one of the more exciting parts of his job.
“Going out and doing a drug deal,” DeGoei said. “I love going out and doing a drug deal. I’ve been doing it for a long, long, long time; I’ve made a lot of drug deals and there’s always something to be said about going out and doing that.
“You always get that adrenaline and you always feel young.”