Duluth doc turns cop in tactical role

Duluth cardiologist Laszlo "Les" Tekler has a new credential to add to his resume -- Wisconsin-certified law enforcement officer. Tekler, a physician with St. Luke's Cardiology Associates, is among the latest graduates of Chippewa Valley Technica...

Laszlo "Les" Tekler
Dr. Laszlo "Les" Tekler poses for a photograph after his graduation from Chippewa Valley Technical College in Eau Claire, Wis. The St. Luke's cardiologist is now a certified law enforcement officer and plans to join the Superior Police Department's emergency response team as a volunteer tactical physician. Photo submitted by Floyd Peters

Duluth cardiologist Laszlo "Les" Tekler has a new credential to add to his resume -- Wisconsin-certified law enforcement officer.

Tekler, a physician with St. Luke's Cardiology Associates, is among the latest graduates of Chippewa Valley Technical College, where most of Superior's police officers earn certification in law enforcement required by the Wisconsin Department of Justice.

The certification makes Tekler eligible to work as a law enforcement officer anywhere in the state, said Superior Police Chief Floyd Peters.

But for now, the doctor will work for the Superior Police Department on a voluntary basis while maintaining his medical practice.

Tekler is one of very few emergency response team physicians in the state of Wisconsin. He will start training and working with the Police Department's tactical response team next month under a voluntary service agreement.


The relationship between Tekler and the Police Department got its start with one of Tekler's patients, the city's former assistant police chief.

Before undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, Scott Campbell was required to see a cardiologist to ensure he could withstand the treatment, he said. That's when he met Dr. Tekler.

"He's a very likable, very personable, very decent man," Campbell said. "He explained to me his interest in law enforcement, and he questioned if there would be a possibility of him doing work for the Police Department because it's been a passion of his. Initially, I was taken by surprise and thought it was one of those inquiries that people make and just never solidifies."

However, the doctor followed up with a few phone calls, and Campbell said he was convinced Tekler's interest was genuine. The now-retired assistant chief made an introduction to Peters.

Tekler has volunteered as a reserve officer for the Duluth Police Department, but he was hoping to take that service to another level, he said.

"It's just an interest that I've always had," Tekler said. The idea of combining his 20 years of experience in the medical field with law enforcement appealed to him, he said.

On his own, Peters said, Tekler sought two weeks' training in tactical response medicine in California.

The two-week course offered by the International School of Tactical Medicine in Palm Springs, Calif., offers training to emergency medical technicians, paramedics, military medical staff, nurses, physician assistants, physicians and surgeons actively involved in providing emergency medical support for military and law enforcement special operations teams.


"It seemed tactical response work would be a real nice hybrid," Tekler said.

But the training didn't end there, as Tekler and the Police Department worked together for about a year to create Superior's first emergency response team physician.

"Having our own physician who is trained as a law enforcement officer and medically trained, and ... having him working right with the team offers some tremendous advantages to the Police Department and the community," Peters said.

As they worked on a service agreement, Tekler decided to take the next step toward law enforcement training. He attended the law enforcement academy at Chippewa Valley Technical College and graduated Nov. 20 at the top of his class, with the support of his family -- and peers, who elected him class president.

"I am still in awe that he left his practice for that amount of time to attend the academy, but he's a right fit for the Police Department and for law enforcement in general," said Campbell, who retired after 28 years of service in January 2008.

"You might say I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up," Tekler said. For now, volunteering with the tactical team will help him get familiar with law enforcement, but "I truly do think that at this point, with 20 years of my career having been spent in medicine and medical practice, I'm perhaps to the point where a shift of gears for me in terms of law enforcement is ultimately in the cards."

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