Medical issue claims longtime La Center police officer, 51

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

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A longtime La Center police officer died in his Woodland home Saturday evening.

Scott Reinecke, 51, died of an unknown medical issue, La Center Police Chief Tim Hopkin said.

Reinecke started working for the La Center Police Department in 1998. He was on leave since March for a few different surgeries, Hopkin said.

The two went fishing together.

“You really get to know a guy when you go fishing together,” he said. “He was just the salt of the earth. He was very private. He was an avid fisherman and an avid motorcyclist.”

He left behind his wife Charlotte “Charlie” Reinecke. The two did not have children together, but Charlotte has children and grandchildren from a previous relationship.

Reinecke started his law enforcement career outside of St. Louis in 1985. He moved to the Northwest and started working for the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office in 1997.

Chief Hopkin hired him.

At the time, the department only had three or four officers. Reinecke’s background and experience stood out, Hopkin said.

“We were pretty small, we didn’t have any money,” he said. “We didn’t attract many applicants.”

Reinecke paid special attention to children’s safety since his first day on the job, Hopkin said. From his marked pickup, he frequently watched school buses to make sure students got to school and home safely.

Others noticed his commitment.

At one point, the police department got a tip that someone was watching kids at a bus stop. The caller thought it was a potential molester, but it turned out it was just Reinecke, who wasn’t recognized as an officer because of his unusual patrol vehicle, Hopkin said.

“He was kind of our diamond in the rough,” Hopkin said. “He was a really good cop. He did his job and we’re going to miss him.”

Service details are still being worked out.