TREMONTON - By Ellen Cook, Headliner Media Specialist - August 9, 2021
Tremonton Police Chief Kurt Fertig has spent over 21 years behind the badge, 18 years on the Brigham City force and the past three years overseeing local law enforcement officers. It has been a career he has grown to love.
“Once you get into law enforcement it is really difficult to leave,” he said. “It’s something new every day. You have the opportunity to do so many things that are positive and the people you work with become really good friends. The job kind of keeps you there, for good reasons.”
As difficult as it may be, however, Fertig will step away from that role as police chief on Friday, August 13, and redirect his love of helping others with the acquisition of a new title. Professor Fertig will begin a new career in Salt Lake City later this year.
“I’m going to teach college,” he said, noting that American Government studies at Ensign College will now be his focus. “I’ve always enjoyed teaching. The few times I’ve been able to do it part time during my career I’ve absolutely loved it. It’s invigorating, it’s interesting, it’s one of those things where you feel like you are making a really positive difference.”
Fertig said he has prepared himself for this change of direction and is excited to do it, but will take with him some good memories, especially the time spent serving the residents of Box Elder County.
Those memories include working as a detective, overseeing investigations into a variety of crimes. “You really feel there that you are doing something important for victims and making a big difference in people’s lives.”
He also benefited from his work as a crisis negotiator on the SWAT team. “Again, you are able to intervene into very difficult situations in people’s lives and really work for a positive outcome that protects their life and protects the lives of the other officers.”
But, he said, nothing compares to his current role. “I definitely have to say that the highlight of my career has been this job. Being the Chief of Police for Tremonton and working with Garland, the combined police departments has been really nice.”
He said though there are some differences between Brigham City and the Bear River Valley, he sees few variances when it comes to crime.
“When I came here, I was amazed at not only how similar the kind of calls were that we deal with, but also some of the same people,” he laughed. “They must move back and forth between the communities.”
In a more serious vein, he said there are a lot of issues related to domestic violence, child abuse, theft and burglary his officers deal with on a regular basis.
“I think the great majority of all crimes are a result of an underlying drug and alcohol problem,” he said. “There are a lot of things people would never do if they were in their right mind. If I had to target one thing to try and do away with, it would be drugs and alcohol because they cause so much other crime.”
While a police officer’s job has many moments of negativity, times of “tragedy and sadness,” Fertig said, “you also have the chance to do so much good.” He said he has tried to make that his focus so that he can look back on his career with fondness. He credits the communities he oversees with helping him be optimistic.
“When you see so much negativity toward law enforcement elsewhere and the difficult situations they find themselves in, those lose-lose situations, it can become disheartening,” he said. “That’s your career and you know that can happen to you, as well. Fortunately, we live in a place where we receive just a ton of support. Tremonton and Garland – the city councils, the mayors, the city manager here in Tremonton, the citizens are so supportive of law enforcement and our mission. They understand how difficult the job can be sometimes. That makes it a lot easier.”
It’s that positivity, those displays of support that Fertig will take with him as he leaves his career as a police officer, and specifically his work in the Tremonton area.
“I really hope people know how much I appreciate the support they have given me, how much I appreciate the foundation the former chief put in place for me to give me a chance to succeed,” he concluded. “I especially appreciate the guys and gals who work here. I really believe this department is second to none. They are competent, they are good, decent human beings. They legitimately care and they really work hard for the safety of Tremonton and Garland. It has been such an honor to lead them.”
An open house in Chief Fertig’s honor will be held on Friday, August 13, from 10 a.m. to noon at the Tremonton offices, 102 S. Tremont St., Tremonton. The public is invited to attend and wish him well as he moves from policeman to professor.
Police Sgt. Nick Nessen will act as interim chief while the city council searches for a permanent replacement.