With the start of 2020, we would like to take a moment to highlight the changes that have occurred at the Sheriff’s Office this past year. These are changes and additions that we firmly believe provides a better service to the entire county, including the City of Ottumwa.
This year has been an eventful and productive year at the Sheriff’s Office. The year started off by (former) Sheriff Mark Miller announcing his retirement after serving as the Wapello County Sheriff for 6 years. (former) Sheriff Miller proudly served the citizens of Wapello County for over 30 years.
In March with a special election, Sheriff Don Phillips was elected to fill Sheriff Miller’s vacant position. Sheriff Phillips was no stranger to leading the department as he was appointed to Chief Deputy (2nd in command) by Sheriff Miller when he was elected in 2012. Sheriff Phillips entered into this position with many ideas that he wished to incorporate into the department to better serve the citizens.
Sheriff Phillips first task was to appoint a Chief Deputy (2nd in command). He appointed former Deputy Marty Wonderlin. Chief Deputy Wonderlin was hired as a Deputy Sheriff in 2009 and worked primarily patrol until 2013. In 2013 Chief Deputy Wonderlin was assigned to the Southeastern Iowa Inner-Agency Drug Task Force where he helped dismantled large scale narcotics distribution rings. With the administration now determined, Sheriff Phillips and Chief Deputy Wonderlin made those ideas a realization.
The Sheriff’s Office partnered with Cardinal Community School District to create a new position of school resource officer. Deputy Sheriff Chris Shadduck was appointed to this position. Deputy Shadduck works primarily at Cardinal Community Schools and is as a positive mentor to the students. This position has had a great deal of positive feedback from the students, parents, and faculty and we are grateful for this opportunity. In addition to being present school hours, Deputy Shadduck is also present for extracurricular activities such as sporting events and dances.
The Sheriff’s Office created a new full time Detective/Investigations position. Phillips has advocated for this position for several years with the belief that this was a position that would benefit Wapello County residents that were victims of cases that required lengthy investigation. Deputy Aaron McConnell was appointed to this position. Investigator McConnell works full time now as an investigator assigned to more complex and major crime investigations. In addition to the active cases, it’s also a priority that Investigator McConnell reviews and investigates cold case homicides from Wapello County. Investigator McConnell works closely with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies in order to solve criminal cases and share information.
Deputy Sheriff Clint Neis was appointed to fill Chief Deputy Wonderlin’s position as an Investigator on the South Eastern Iowa Inner-Agency Drug Task Force. Investigator Neis works full time investigating and helping to dismantle large scale narcotic trafficking rings. We are grateful to continuously have the opportunity to be a part of this task force.
In addition to Deputy Neis being assigned to the narcotics unit, the Sheriff’s Office purchased two K-9s to further help combat the narcotic epidemic in Wapello County. Building this program was not easy, but a task Sheriff Phillips was passionate about. Sheriff Phillips was determined that the K-9’s would be purchased strictly by grants and donations so as not to cost the tax payers. With that in mind, we were able to raise approximately $75,000 which covered the purchase of the dogs, a new K9 vehichle, training and equipment. The Sheriff’s Office continues to apply for grants and donations so the program can remain self-funded for years to come.
Deputy Donald McMartin was appointed to be the handler for K-9 Deputy Hex and Deputy Seth Hobbs was appointed to be the handler for K-9 Deputy Luna. In the short time these K-9’s have been on the streets, they have proven to be a benefit to Wapello County in its entirety by helping to remove a large volume of narcotics and guns off the streets of Wapello County. Deputies McMartin and Hobbs have done an outstanding job in building the new K-9 program. Local Law Enforcement agencies, including, the Ottumwa Police Department and Iowa State Patrol have been informed they can utilize these Deputies anytime they need assistance from the K-9’s.
The Wapello County Sheriff’s Office hired three (3) new Deputies this year. Two of these positions are new positions that were approved after close collaboration with the County Supervisors. Deputies: Bryan Baum, Kevin Plym, and Brandon Johnson were hired to work the patrol division.
The Sheriff’s Office has started a salvage vehichle inspection program. We currently have four (4) sworn Deputies that have gone through the training and are certified to conduct these inspections. Deputy Evans is the main Deputy conducting the inspections that come through the office almost daily. Conducting these inspections makes it easier and quicker for any Wapello County resident to get these complete. It is estimated that these inspections will provide a revenue stream of approximately $10,000 a year to the general fund.
Other notable mentions:
The Sheriff’s Office applied for a grant which was used to purchase four (4) hi-tech trail cameras for pro-active investigations. These cameras are internet based and send pictures immediately to the Dispatcher and Deputies emails. Over the years, we have seen a rise in rural burglaries to farm and abandoned properties. These cameras have proven to be an effective tool in the apprehension of individual(s) committing these thefts and burglaries.
The Sheriff’s Office has implemented an anonymous tip line where an individual can contact our office to report suspicious activity, report a crime, or provide information on a wanted subject anonymously. It is not uncommon for a witness to be hesitant to report a crime or valuable information in fear of retaliation. With the new tip line, the individual can contact our office and leave a voicemail or can send an email. The tip line is considered confidential and the reporting party will not be named, without their permission. To report anything anonymously please call (641) 684-4350 extension 5 and leave a voicemail or email (email@example.com).
New Employees 2019 : Ricky Adkins, Christian Rangel and Becca Tosh-Correctional Officers in the jail
Janet Fletcher-Communication Specialist