Hancock County Sheriff's Office History
Former Hancock County Sheriffs
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office
Hancock County has eight incorporated cities, three of which (Garner, Britt and Kanawha) have their own police departments. The Hancock County Sheriff's Office provides contractual law enforcement services to the other five incorporated cities (Klemme, Goodell, Corwith, Woden and Crystal Lake). Hutchins, Hayfield and Miller are three unincorporated cities within the County that are provided protection through the local county law enforcement surcharge. The City of Garner is the county seat and the largest of the cities with a population of 2922 people. Garner's Police Department consists of a chief, a sergeant and 3 patrol officers. Britt has a population of 2052 and its Police Department consists of a chief and two patrol officers. Kanawha has a population of 739 and employs a Chief of Police. Populations for the other incorporated cities in Hancock County are as follows; Klemme: 593; Goodell: 174; Corwith: 350; Woden: 243; and Crystal Lake: 285. Total population for Hancock County is estimated at 12,100 according to the 2000 census. Hancock County also has a portion of a ninth incorporated city within the County. The City of Forest City, with a population of 4,362, also has its own Police Department including a Chief, Assistant Chief, Lieutenant and four patrol officers. Forest City lies within both Winnebago and Hancock Counties and is the County Seat for Winnebago County. Only a small portion of Forest City lies within Hancock County's borders and its Hancock County population is estimated at 349.
Hancock County has numerous industries supplying employment opportunities for area residents. Well established industries within Hancock County includes: Winnebago Industries (recreational vehicle manufacturer), 3M Distribution Center, C.D.I (custom painting of Winnebago RVs), Stellar Industries (truck cargo body manufacturer), Iowa Mold and Tooling (truck cargo body manufacturer), Unicover Inc. (truck topper manufacturer), Zinpro (additives for animal food products), Aspen Hills (cookie dough factory), C.F. Industries (anhydrous ammonia storage terminal), KOCH Nitrogen (anhydrous ammonia storage terminal) and Keifer Built (trailer manufacturer).
Hancock County is also home to a large, growing wind energy center. The first stage of generators were installed in 2001 and 148 turbines were erected. The most current project was completed in 2009 and added an additional 100 sites.
Hancock County has the dubious distinction of having a previous Sheriff on the National Law Enforcement Officer's Memorial. Sheriff Ernest Henry (EH) Wahlert was killed in the line of duty on February 4, 1930. Sheriff Wahlert has been in office only 13 months at the time of his death. Sheriff Wahlert and Deputy Sheriff Bruce Orr were in the Britt area trying to apprehend a bootlegger. Wahlert and Orr followed a vehicle north out of Britt on the Crystal Lake Road (now James Avenue). This vehicle proceeded one mile north prior to turning into a residence. Wahlert and Orr drove past this location. While doing so, the vehicle they were following turned around and proceeded back towards Britt. Sheriff Wahlert drove to the intersection to the north of this residence and turned around to follow the vehicle back towards Britt. Sheriff Wahlert dropped Deputy Orr off near the residence where the suspect vehicle turned around. Orr concealed himself in the ditch while Wahlert proceeded to Britt to see if he could locate the vehicle. Deputy Orr reported that a short time later he observed Sheriff Wahlert (by vehicle description and license number) drive north on the Crystal Lake Road past his position and attempt to turn around in the roadway. Wahlert dropped off the roadway in the snow and appears to have been trying to dig himself out with a shovel. It was assumed that he was bending over to scoop snow when his .38 caliber automatic Colt handgun fell from its holster (shoulder holster) to the frozen ground and discharged. The bullet struck Sheriff Wahlert just under the navel and travelled through his torso into his lung. Deputy Orr, seeing that Wahlert's vehicle was not moving, walked towards the scene. Upon his arrival, Sheriff Wahlert was too weak to tell the story of how it all occurred. Upon the arrival of the Doctor, Sheriff Wahlert had died. Hancock County received confirmation on February 13, 2007 that Sheriff Wahlert's name would be added to the Memorial on May 14, 2010.
Hancock County Sheriff Scott Dodd was elected in a special election in August 2005. Dodd replaced retiring Sheriff Robert Gerdes. Dodd had been with the Sheriff's Office for 27 years prior to his election in 2005. Sheriff Dodd was a Sheriff's Reserve Deputy for 2 years prior to being hired full time.
Hancock County Employs three part-time deputies to help with special events and cover shifts on an as-needed basis. All current part-time deputies are certified peace officers from other agencies.
The Hancock County Sheriff's Office and Jail were originally constructed in 1977. The jail was initially configured to house ten inmates. When the Courthouse addition was constructed in 1999, the Hancock County Jail went through a remodel at the same time. During this remodel, the jail was updated to meet accessibility standards for disabled inmates and additional beds were added. Our current facility is a certified for fifteen beds and can hold male, female and juvenile inmates.
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