Candidate for District Judge
in West Bethlehem and
He earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from DeSales University, a master's degree in criminology from St. Joseph's University and is currently enrolled in a Master of Education program at Temple University
He retired from the Bethlehem Police Department in 2013 as detective sergeant. Van also served as a School Resource Officer for Liberty High School and East Hills Middle School. He is a volunteer for the Pennsylvania State Police and local police department Camp Cadet programs.
Van, a lifelong resident of Bethlehem, lives with his wife, has an adult son and daughter, two sons-in-law and three grandchildren.
"I feel very humbled and honored that I can give back."
Leading a life of service, Van hasn't stopped giving back to his community - the people and organizations in Bethlehem area that surrounded him, nurtured and encouraged him to lead a productive and honest life.
Van grew up in South Bethlehem with strong guidance from a single mother, a loving grandmother and a caring community.
"In my early teens, if it wasn't for the Bethlehem Boys Club, the Lehigh University students taking us in, tutoring us, having Christmas and birthday parties and athletics - growing up I had educators around me and people who were guides in my life. Without that, I wouldn't be where I am today."
Today, Van is focused on a future as a local magistrate, a position he sees as another arm of community engagement, another opportunity to continue his lifelong passion for understanding, helping and learning about what it takes to create a compassionate, safe and active community.
"I made it. You can make it too."
"Being a teacher in the poorest high schools in the area, Allen and Dieruff, I tell these kids, 'Look where I came from!' I make that a point. I made it. You can make it too. My mom always said, 'Don't give up. Go for your dreams!'"
Van knows the struggles of his students. A high school dropout, he saw friends end up in prison, some died tragically in their teens drawn to lives of drug addiction and crime.
"I had a strong mom. She was a rock. If it wasn't for her, I probably wouldn't be even close to where I am now. Either in jail or on the street - I could have gone that route. I chose to go the other route."
He chose to learn and be involved. After a stint in the military, he got his GED, graduated from the police academy, joined Bethlehem Police Department and eventually earned a bachelor's degree. He was drawn to the schools where he saw kids like himself struggling through adolescence. As a high school and middle school resource officer he chose family conferences and consultations with the local magistrates over fines and jail time. He created a neighborhood cleanup program for Liberty High School students in lieu of punishment for charges of fighting and harassment in school and was architect of the biggest Liberty High School Block Watch program.
"It wasn't always punishment all the time. That's not the way to always go. I said let's figure out what the problem is. Is there any underlying thing going on in that person's life?"
"Criminal justice isn't just about making arrests."
Working in the schools he saw education and communication as the keys to reaching young people. After retiring from the force, Van continued his lifelong focus on learning, leading to a master's degree in criminology and an almost completed master's in education. As an adjunct professor he teaches classes like law enforcement and juvenile justice. As a high school educator at the county technical institute his criminal justice courtroom curriculum trains 100 students about the constitution, case law, diversity, medical trauma along with certifications in CPR and BLS.
And there are the Camp Cadet programs and Citizens Academy, other educational programs Van supports and volunteers his time for. Always with the goal of educating and helping people. Van makes a difference as a positive mentor in young people's lives.
Adjunct university professor, educator, mentor, US Army veteran, retired law enforcement officer, volunteer, community leader. This is the story of Van Scott.
When it comes to truth, law and justice, West Bethlehem and Fountain Hill will be in good hands with Van Scott.