History of Sheriff's Office

History of Mills County Sheriff's Office

The term "Sheriff" comes from old England. In medieval times, in England, counties were called Shires. One of the most important people in the Shire was the Reeve. The Reeve was responsible for collecting the king's taxes, and later it became his job to enforce all of the laws of the land. The Shire would also act as a magistrate. The Shire Reeve would first arrest the people, then he would act as a judge at their trial. The term Reeve of the Shire or Shire Reeve eventually became the word we know today as Sheriff. The most notable Sheriff of medieval times is probably Robin Hood's foe, the Sheriff of Nottingham. When the English settled America, they brought their form of government and their customs with them, including the position of Sheriff. Later, Sheriffs gained notoriety for "cleaning up" the rough and tumble cow towns like Dodge City, Kansas, and Tombstone, Arizona.

The first Mills County Sheriff of the newly formed state of Iowa was W.W. Noyes. He was appointed by the General Assembly on August 1, 1851. James Hardy, the first Mills County Sheriff to be elected, took office on August 31, 1851. The only Mills County officer to die in the line of duty was Sheriff Elijah W Bushnell. When the present jail was being built in 1915, Sheriff Bushnell climbed onto the scaffolding to check out the work on the second story. Due to unknown reasons, Sheriff Bushnell fell off of the scaffolding. Sheriff Bushnell died as a result of his injuries.

Mills County Sheriff's deputies patrol 447 square miles. Besides patrolling the rural areas, the Sheriff's Office contracts with six other communities (all of the cities in Mills County except Glenwood which has its own police department) to provide their law enforcement. Presently there are 11 full-time county deputies.

A couple of areas that make a Sheriff's Office different from other police departments is that the Sheriff's Office operates as a jail, and is also responsible for civil process. If a person is arrested by a County Sheriff's Deputy, a City Police Officer, or the State Patrol, they all end up in the County jail. People convicted of a simple or serious misdemeanor will do their jail time in the County jail. People convicted of an aggravated misdemeanor or a felony may do their jail time in the state prison.

To become a Deputy Sheriff, the applicant must be at least twenty-one years old and a high school graduate (or GED equivalent). The applicant must be of good moral character and not addicted to alcohol or drugs. The applicant must successfully pass a civil service examination consisting of a written test and a physical agility test. The applicant must also be able to pass a psychological test, vision and hearing test, physical examination, and a drug screen. Deputies need to be certified by the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy. Training at the academy consists of fourteen weeks at Camp Dodge near Des Moines, Iowa. During their basic training, Deputies receive training in such topics as criminal investigations, traffic laws, and medical training. Deputies also receive annual update training.

Past Sheriff's of Mills County

  • 2021 to Present Travis Oetter
  • 2009 to 2020 Eugene Goos
  • 1993 to 2008 Mack Taylor
  • 1985 to 1992 Howard Clark
  • 1978 to 1984 Ernest James
  • 1973 to 1978 Merle Brown
  • 1959 to 1972 Ed Barkus
  • 1951 to 1958 Don Rhoden
  • 1943 to 1950 Robert Moore
  • 1923 to 1942 W.S. DeMoss
  • 1915 to 1922 A.S. Edwards
  • 1911 to 1915 E.W. Bushnell
  • 1907 to 1910 L.G. Linville
  • 1900 to 1907 W.H. Morgen
  • 1893 to 1894 W.P. Campbell
  • 1887 to 1892 W.C. DeLashmutt
  • 1881 to 1886 D.A Farrell
  • 1876 to 1880 James S Hendrie
  • 1874 to 1875 E.C. Tuner
  • 1872 to 1873 J.W. Turner
  • 1869 to 1871 E.B. Sampson
  • 1867 to 1868 J.T. Duepree
  • 1865 to 1866 D.A. Farrell
  • 1864 to 1865 W.B. Scott
  • 1858 to 1863 E.B. Sampson
  • 1854 to 1857 John Haynie
  • 1853 William Davis
  • 1851 to 1853 James Hardy
  • 1851 W.W. Noyes