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WCSO Officer of the Year reflects on career, heroic act

It was just another routine shift on Nov. 7, 2019, for Wharton County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) Cpl. David Rangel. When he answered the call that fateful night, he did not know he was about to save a life nor that his heroic actions would lead to his nomination of WCSO’s Officer of the Year.

If I had to tell myself something it would be this: Everyday you put on the uniform, you are going to change someone’s life — whether it’s something small or big — you’re going to impact someone.

Rangel knew he wanted to join law enforcement at an early age. A friend and family member pushed him to join the WCSO as a correctional officer in 2011. 

“He gave me the push to start my career,” Rangel told The County Gin. “At the time in my life, becoming a correctional officer was a very new experience. It served as my introduction to law enforcement and taught me so much.”

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Rangel worked for the jail while attending the police academy through Wharton County Junior College.

He graduated in 2014 with the PA87 class and has been on patrol as a deputy ever since.

“There’s a whole list of things I wish I could have told myself back in 2011 (when I first began a career in law enforcement),” Rangel told The Gin. “If I had to tell myself something it would be this: Everyday you put on the uniform, you are going to change someone’s life — whether it’s something small or big — you’re going to impact someone.”

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It was during a routine patrol that Rangel would, indeed, save a life.

He received a call that an individual was attempting to commit suicide. Rangel was only five minutes away.

“I remember walking onto the porch and knocking on the front door,” Rangel said. “I was only five minutes down the road when the actual call came in, so I expected someone to answer the door relatively quickly.”

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There was still no answer. After moving to a different vantage point, he saw the individual hanging by the neck.

“I looked into the living room window and after a quick look around, I saw the male subject in the stairwell,” he said. “My first instinct was that I needed to get into the house to help him.”

Rangel’s training kicked in. He had to act quickly.

He began to kick the front door and after a few blows, it broke.

“This was the first time that I have ever done anything like this,” Rangel said. “Somehow, instinct just kicked in and I was able to get him down and start CPR. I remember calling over the radio that I needed assistance and shortly after, Sgt. Davis, my supervisor, showed up to help me with CPR.”

After EMS arrived to take over the traumatic scene, Rangel composed himself.

“I remember sitting in my patrol unit just collecting my thoughts and afterward, it was back to work,” he said.

However, the experience would stay with him and change his outlook on how he approaches each situation.

Our role is to assure that the people are safe. My reason for going into work every day is to try to help people.

“In this line of work, you never really know what you’re walking into when you approach someone’s house,” Rangel said. “There is nothing ‘routine’ about this job and everything can change in a split second.”

Rangel’s swift action that night would lead to not only a WCSO “Life Saving Award” and recognition by the Wharton County Commissioners Court, but also being named Wharton County Sheriff’s Office Officer of the Year.

“When I first got the call from WCSO Sheriff (Shannon) Srubar, my first though was, ‘Uh oh’ — it felt like I was getting called into the principals office,” Rangel said. “He told me that I was nominated for officer of the year and congratulated me on doing a great job. It was a big surprise to me and an honor.”

Looking to the future, Rangel said he hopes to one day be a part of the Criminal Investigation Division.

“During my time here, investigating has always interested me and I hope one day to be able to do it,” he said. “I’ll do the best I can while working on patrol. Experiencing things firsthand is what helps me to become a better officer and achieve that goal.”

Until then, Rangel continues to patrol the streets, serving and protecting the Wharton County community.

“Patrolmen are here to protect and serve the citizens of Wharton County — from unlocking someone’s car door or putting a few cows back in a livestock owner’s fence, from saving the life of someone who is in a crisis to catching that person who just committed a major crime,” he said. “Our role is to assure that the people are safe. My reason for going into work every day is to try to help people.”

Jessica Hartman also contributed to this article.

Natalie Frels-Busbyhttps://www.thecountygin.com
Natalie Frels-Busby is the former editor-in-chief of The County Gin.

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