David Turpen wants to be the next Hamilton County sheriff

David Turpen

David Turpen wants to be your sheriff.

The seasoned law enforcement officer is seeking to replace retiring Hamilton County Sheriff Doug Timmons.

Turpen, a Republican, is currently the Ellsworth, Jewell, Stanhope police chief.

He will face the other Republican candidate for Hamilton County sheriff, Alex Pruismann, in the June 4 primary.

Here, Turpen answers questions about the role of sheriff and his ideas about serving the public in law enforcement.

Q: What is the sheriff’s most important purpose, in your opinion?

Turpen: “In my opinion the purpose of the sheriff is not a singular thing. The sheriff should be many things to many different people. Starting with those individuals that work for you, I believe it is important to be a leader and a teacher as opposed to just the boss. It is important to be able to lead your staff in their professional lives and when necessary provide guidance in their personal lives if necessary and asked for.

“To the people that live in Hamilton County you should be seen as a fair, compassionate, and fiscally-responsible leader. The sheriff should exemplify teamwork and be willing to work with others to achieve a common goal, whether they are law enforcement agencies or are members of other organizations or agencies, both within and outside of Hamilton County.”

Q: What needs do you see in Hamilton County from the perspective of a potential sheriff?

Turpen: “Hamilton County has needs just like any other county or community. One thing that I believe would benefit the citizens of Hamilton County would be an investigator’s position. This position could be one that is a shared position between the sheriff’s office and the other departments within Hamilton County, including both the Webster City Police Department and the Ellsworth, Jewell, Stanhope department. This would benefit all the departments within the county as having enough time to investigate cases is always something that we need more of. If there was an officer whose main responsibility was to do investigations, after the initial report, it could free up additional time for officers to do other day-to-day activities.

“I also see a need in the area of responding to mental health calls. As an officer, we are called on to wear many hats and working with a mental health crisis is one area where we can always have more training. I would like to look at those counties or cities that utilize a mental health advocate on calls which are dispatched as possibly being a mental health issue, and see if this is a program that would benefit the citizens of Hamilton County. The officers would continue to be the first ones to initiate contact with the individual. Once the area is safe, an advocate could come in and continue the interaction with the individual. It is not uncommon for those individuals in crisis to have trust issues when dealing with law enforcement. I believe that having an individual that is not in law enforcement available to assist with these calls may be more beneficial to the person needing the help.”

Q: Tell us about the sheriff’s position. It is not just law enforcement, it is management as well.

Turpen: “The sheriff’s position is not just about law enforcement. A sheriff should be able to manage his department, including both the staff and financial aspect. I believe that management of the staff comes down to showing them respect and being willing to do the things you are asking them to do, not just telling them to do it. In my experience as a manager, both in the private sector and in law enforcement, you must be willing to get in there and do the jobs that are less glamorous rather than just tell someone else to do it. Showing those that work for you that you are not afraid of doing these jobs builds positive relationships and trust with your staff.

“As far as the financial aspect of the job goes, it is important that the sheriff treat the monies that they are given in their budget by the supervisors, as if they were their own and be fiscally responsible and spend the money wisely. Utilizing other funding sources, such as local, state or federal grants would help decrease the local spending. Additionally, being conscious of the difference between needs and wants, and being willing to cooperatively use the resources of other agencies would be a way the sheriff could be a leader in fiscal responsibility.”

Q: Tell us your history and how that led to law enforcement.

Turpen: “I am a 1987 graduate from Charles City Community Schools; I attended and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with a BA in psychology in 1991. … I earned my MBA in rehabilitation administration from the University of San Francisco in 1997. While living and working in Charles City I was able to join the Charles City Police Department as a reserve officer.

“My background in psychology and the work I did with individuals, both in the private sector and as a reserve officer, made me realize I was ready to make a change and pursue a career in law enforcement. Once I made that decision, I began testing and interviewing at departments throughout the state that were hiring.

“On September 4, 2001, I started my first full-time law enforcement job with the Black Hawk County Sheriff’s Office as a deputy assigned to the jail. Shortly after starting in Black Hawk County I received a call from the Webster City Police Department, offering me a position as an officer. I moved to Webster City in January 2002, while my family stayed in Charles City to finish the school year. I worked for the Webster City Police Department until November 2007 when there was an opening at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.

“In November 2020 I took the position as chief of police with the Ellsworth, Jewell, and Stanhope Police Department. In my time prior to law enforcement and now as the chief, I have had the opportunity to supervise staff, prepare budgets and work in conjunction with other agencies all which I believe have prepared me for the role as Hamilton County sheriff.”

Q: Are there any things you would change in Hamilton County, as sheriff?

Turpen: “One of the things that I see that would benefit Hamilton County I mentioned earlier, and that would be a mental health advocate program that responds to calls with officers and helps individuals right there where they are having the problems, alongside the officer.

“Another change I would implement would have to do with increased interagency cooperation involving all departments within Hamilton County, and those outside of the county such as the Iowa State Patrol. I have been on all sides of this challenge while working in Webster City, for Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, and now in Ellsworth, Jewell and Stanhope. There is not always the best cooperation between departments when it comes to helping others. I believe we all do the same job and it should not matter what color our uniforms are; we should serve the people of Hamilton County to the best of our ability as a collective unit and not just individualized departments.

“I would also encourage the members of the department to increase their community involvement while on shift by stopping at and participating in community events, attending school functions, or other events that are going on in the county.”


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