Brookfield Central Class of 1986
Tom Vento is a Lancer graduate and cancer survivor that served the community that raised him for over 30 years through his time at the Brookfield and Elm Grove Police Departments.
Vento began his Elmbrook education at Hillside Elementary School from Kindergarten through Sixth Grade before continuing on to Wisconsin Hills for 7th and 8th Grade and finally Brookfield Central as part of the first Freshman class at the school. During his time at Central, he was involved in Wrestling, Baseball, Football, and Explorer’s Boy Scouts. Vento thanked his fifth grade teacher Paul Hibler and high school English teacher Diane Doerfler for the impact they had on his life. “I was fortunate to grow up in a community that has a quality education system that offers an avenue for types of learners with different career aspirations,” reflected Tom. “Paul Hibler has become and remains a close friend that coached, guided and mentored me to find success in my career and life today, and Diane Doerfler had a way of teaching that engaged me in ways no one else could - they were phenomenal educators!”
Tom graduated from Brookfield Central in 1986 and continued on to the University of Wisconsin - Waukesha for two years. He then began working in the Police Department at the age of 19, and became full-time at 20 years old. Over the next five years while on the force, Vento completed his Bachelors in Criminal Justice at Mount Scenario College in Ladysmith, WI. Vento’s career took him from the Town of Brookfield in 1987 to the Village of Elm Grove (88-92) and back to Brookfield in July of 1992. He later moved into the undercover drug unit and became part of the SWAT Team, a team he would remain a part of for 20 years. In 1995, Tom married his wife, Brenda, and he advanced to the role of Detective shortly after.
“My favorite part of my career was the connections that I was able to make with people and policing the community I grew up in,” stated Vento. “Fostering an environment during my leadership years where I could watch people develop and succeed in their careers. And the privilege to save a life when put in that situation is unlike any feeling I can describe.”
In 2002, Tom was diagnosed with cancer - a journey that would take him through three occurrences, 12 years, and about 15 surgeries. Vento highlighted the support of those in his profession and his community as an incredible help in overcoming his long battle with cancer, which went into remission in 2014. His career throughout this hardship didn’t stop evolving as he saw promotions from Night Sergeant to Night Lieutenant and finally Captain of the Patrol Division in 2016. “My battle with cancer was a marathon, not a sprint,” he continued, “it changed my perspective on life and reshaped my adulthood. It forced my kids to grow up quickly and made us see what’s truly important in life - each other.”
Today, Tom and his wife live in Wind Lake and he’s the proud father of two Brookfield East graduates (class of 2016 and 2017). “Our children attended Elmbrook because we wanted them to have the same great education that I received and to be surrounded by a community that cares about each other,” said Vento.
Though he retired from the Brookfield Police Department in 2020, he continues to be an in-service training coordinator teaching SWAT at WCTC, one of several subjects he’s taught at the school since 1998. Vento is the 2022 recipient of the Engaged in Excellence Award for Alumni Excellence for Brookfield Central, thanks to his service to the Elmbrook community and the bravery and resilience he has showcased in both his career and battle with cancer.