Click here to find out more about the candidates for Pottawattamie County sheriff.
* * *
COUNCIL BLUFFS — In Tuesday's Republican primary for Pottawattamie County sheriff, voters will choose between two-decade incumbent Jeff Danker and veteran Iowa State Patrol trooper John Hitchcock.
The winner of the Danker-Hitchcock contest will most likely be the next sheriff, because no Democrat filed to run for the office.
Danker is citing his extensive experience at all levels of the Sheriff's Office, including years as a corrections officer, bailiff, road patrol officer and criminal investigations supervisor, and his two decades as sheriff.
Hitchcock, who has never been promoted in the State Patrol, said the county needs more “accountable and responsible” law enforcement. But his attempt to have such matters investigated in Pottawattamie County may have backfired.
Hitchcock turned over 11 complaints regarding Danker that, in his view, were things that ran counter to policy or were unethical.
The accusations included that the sheriff had illegally purchased a foreclosed property, issued a weapons permit to a disqualified person and violated the information technology policy for personal computers.
The accusations were first turned over to Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber. Ultimately, they were investigated by Dallas County Attorney Wayne M. Reisetter.
Reisetter addressed each allegation in a seven-page letter to Wilber. Reisetter found that none of the incidents, if true, would be a criminal act.
Hitchcock, for his part, said he believed that the issues in question violated county policy or were unethical.
“I turned over small pieces of information I received through open records requests,” Hitchcock said in an interview Friday. “I never once said they were criminal.”
Danker isn't buying it.
“He should know you don't take ethical violations to a county attorney,” Danker said. The only reason for him to do so was to “ruin my reputation, so he would have a better shot at winning the sheriff's election.”
Asked what he would do as sheriff, Hitchcock said he would work to better share information among city, county and state agencies. He wants the Sheriff's Office to be more aggressive about investigating burglaries.
Also, he pledged to wear the sheriff's uniform to work and drive a fully marked patrol car. Danker often wears a suit.
“It's very important that you don't ask your employees to do anything you would not do yourself,” Hitchcock said.
Danker pointed to his experience running an agency with a $17 million annual budget. Under his leadership, a new jail on the north side of town was built, solving an overcrowding problem that plagued the old one.
“It's been a well-run, efficient jail for the citizens of Pottawattamie County,'' he said.
Danker wants the Sheriff's Office to continue keeping pace with technology, get the 911 system upgraded and improve security in the courthouse.
He also wants to see the Sheriff's Office get nationally accredited, as are the Omaha Police Department, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office and the Iowa Department of Public Safety.
“I believe I've done a good job of leading the Sheriff's Office through a number of challenging times,” Danker said. “We've been able to ... keep up with all the advancements in law enforcement technology and have a very efficient Sheriff's Office.”
Contact the writer:
Pottawattamie County Sheriff candidates
Occupation: Incumbent sheriff
Home: Rural Council Bluffs
Offices held: sheriff
Education: Bachelor's degree, University of Nebraska at Omaha
Family: Married, two grown daughters
Occupation: Senior trooper, Iowa State Patrol
Home: Council Bluffs
Offices held: None
Education: One year at Iowa Western Community College
Family: Married, six children