Something new everyday

Timmons reflects on first year as sheriff

—Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Timmons celebrated his one year anniversary as sheriff on Jan. 1, 2018

“Everyday there’s something new. I’m learning all sorts of different things,” said Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Timmons. “Thank goodness I have good staff that has taught me a lot of things.”

Timmons, who took office on Jan. 1, 2017, just celebrated his one year anniversary as sheriff. With over 365 days of experience now under his belt, Timmons is continuing to serve the people who elected him in 2016.

One of the biggest challenges he had to overcome was learning more about the many roles at the department. This includes dispatch, the jail and a number of clerical duties.

“With being the sheriff, you’re in charge of the jail. You’re in charge of clerical. You’re in charge of dispatch,” said Timmons. “You’ve got a lot more responsibility.”

He credited the many departments he works with with making his transition from deputy to sheriff easier.

“I’ve got a great group,” Timmons said. “They make my job easier because they know what they’re supposed to do.”

Now that Timmons has a more extensive knowledge about the inner workings of the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office, he feels he can better serve the public.

“When the general public comes in and asks a question about gun permits or how the jail works or how dispatch works – I feel like everything I’ve learned this past year – I have an answer for them now. If I don’t, I can find an answer,” Timmons said.

Accomplishments

The addition of a Facebook account and updated web page has been a major accomplishment for the department, according to Timmons.

“It gives the citizens more of an idea of the day-to-day operations of the sheriff’s office,” said Timmons. “By putting our log and our arrests on there…that has educated the public quite a bit.”

An added benefit of keeping the public informed is that they, in return, are able to keep their eyes out for suspicious activity and inform the department. Timmons noted that the community involvement could be anonymous by using Crimestoppers or by contacting the police.

Under the direction of Timmons, the department has also enhanced farm watches. As Hamilton County has a large rural population, Timmons noted this will help keep all citizens and their property safe.

The Central Iowa Juvenile Detention Center now does all of the metal patient transports for the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office. This saves deputies time on the road, cuts overtime costs and wear and tear on vehicles.

“It’s at no cost to the sheriff’s office,” Timmons said. “The fee for that comes out of the region’s area for property taxes.”

Another accomplishment Timmons noted was the addition of training for every division at the department.

As former sheriff Denny Hagenson was finishing up his duties in 2016, the process to get computers in deputy cars was beginning.

“We’ve done computer logging of the deputies daily activities,” Timmons said.

With the help of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, the department is in the process of upgrading all Hamilton County radios from analog to digital.

“That’s a major undergoing,” said Timmons. “We have a lot of people involved in that.”

The radio change is a federal mandate is for interoperability, according to Timmons.

“In order for us to communicate and provide public safety for all the towns and our citizens in the county, we need this system,” Timmons said.

The HCSO recently implemented a new program focused at informing students that officers are there to serve and protect them. The High Five program sends members of the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office to elementary schools at Stratford, Northeast Hamilton and South Hamilton on Fridays. Officers greet students with high fives as they walk into the building for the day.

“We give them high fives and let them know they don’t have to be scared of us and we are just normal people,” Timmons said. “We like to joke and laugh around with the kids. That’s had a good turnover.”

Timmons hopes this will inspire students to come to them for help if they ever need it.

“Don’t be scared of us,” Timmons said. “We’re here to help you.”

The HCSO is in the process of developing a Sexual Assault Response Team. This team is a joint effort that involves crisis counselors, law enforcement, county attorney’s office and medical professionals.

“There’s a need for this,” Timmons said. “The biggest thing is, if in fact an assault did take place, to build a good case and work together so the offender is rightfully prosecuted and the victim gets justice.”

“We’ve been having meetings for several months now and are getting the plan in place and training staff,” said Timmons.

Anyone with questions about this group can contact Timmons.

The department is also looking into a new body camera system and car camera system as well as video storage.

“It’s kind of like an insurance policy,” Timmons said. “When it comes to events, it’s a ‘he said she said’ and if it’s on camera, you can’t argue with the camera. It shows everything that happens.”

The current body cameras have already proven their worth at the department. Not only do the cameras assist deputies with paperwork and detailing the proper information during a report, the camera footage has saved the department from several possible lawsuits.

During a public forum held in November of 2016, Timmons and then-opponent for Hamilton County Sheriff Rod Hicok answered questions about what they would do if they were elected sheriff. When the subject of Hamilton County’s diverse community came up, Timmons mentioned working closely with ACE Community Center. ACE is a non-profit designed to overcome cultural barriers and connect the diverse groups of people residing in Webster City. Timmons also noted working to better understand other languages.

“It’s a tough road trying to speak with someone who doesn’t speak your language,” Timmons said. “It’s a struggle. We see this everyday and maybe working with ACE we can get those things straightened out, learn a second language and remember a second language. It’s going to be difficult. As a police officer, there is a lot of stuff we need to remember.”

In February of 2017, Timmons attended a community conversation at ACE. Timmons, Webster City Police Chief Shiloh Mork and Webster City City Manager Daniel Ortiz-Hernandez were present to overcome the language barrier.

Attendees were walked through a traffic stop example and informed of the rules necessary to follow in order to be in compliance with the law.

“We let them know that they’re not going to go to jail just because they didn’t turn their turn signal on,” Timmons said. “But that everybody needs to have a driver’s license. Everybody needs to have insurance. Everybody needs to follow the laws. If you follow them you won’t have a problem, but if you don’t follow them, we’re going to have to deal with the situation.”

Timmons hopes to continue to keep the sheriff’s office in reputable standing with county residents.

“I’m proud of being the sheriff. I like to come to work everyday and serve the people,” said Timmons. “I plan to do it for many more years.”

“I’m proud to be continuing the tradition of Hamilton County Sheriff,” said Timmons.

Timmons, a 1990 graduate of Webster City High School, attended Iowa Central Community College and received a two-year degree in law enforcement. He began his career as a reserve police officer in Webster City in 1993. In 1995. he was hired as a deputy sheriff in Winnebago county. While in Winnebago, Timmons became an EMT, drug recognition expert, certified jailer in the state of Iowa, and proficient in CPR. He was hired as a Hamilton County Deputy Sheriff in 2000.

Timmons is active on the Stratford Fire Department, Stratford City Council, hunter’s safety instructor, and assists his neighbors and the community of Stratford. Timmons is also active with the S.A.L.T. Program and Hamilton County Crimestoppers.

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