by Steve Peterson
Sioux County Sheriff Dan Altena is seeking his third term against a write-in candidate in the Nov. 6 General Election, his predecessor, Jim Schwiesow.
Altena has held the positions of Patrol Deputy, Sergeant, Lieutenant and Chief Deputy before he was first elected Sheriff in 2004, starting those duties as Sheriff in Jan., 2005. The Sioux Center resident and his wife Sandi have seven children.
Altena’s previous law enforcement experience includes Orange City, from 1979-1981; Sioux Center police departments, 1981-1983 and since 1983 with the Sioux County Sheriff’s Department. He attended Western Iowa Tech in Sioux City, studying Police Science. He has graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in 1981, and has attended many schools and seminars pertaining to law enforcement. He is also a graduate of the FBI Law Enforcement Executive Development (L.E.E.D.S.) School and the FEMA Incident Command System.
“I have had extensive training in leadership and the FEMA Incident Command System. I believe these two areas are essential for me as sheriff.
“As Sheriff, I’m passionate about providing the best public safety possible for all our residents. One of the many reasons people of Sioux County enjoy living here is because it is a safe community. As a husband and father, I want that not only for my family, but also for every family in Sioux County,” said Altena.
“I have worked hard to develop a law enforcement agency that can be trusted to provide the best possible public safety. I have stressed integrity, professionalism, and hard work to my staff. In fact, all of those values appear in the Mission Statement we adopted in 2005, when I first took office as sheriff. Here is our complete Mission Statement: “The Sioux County Sheriff’s Office is committed to maintaining the public’s trust, providing protection, and professional leadership, by utilizing our skills and resources with integrity.
“There continues to be more to do and I am committed to work hard for the people of Sioux County,” said Altena.
Current strengths of the department include, said the sheriff
“I’ve built a positive rapport with area law enforcement agencies, other county offices, civic groups and other organizations.
“I instigated programs over the past three years to fight the high rate of traffic fatalities in Sioux County; an improved environment of leadership and structure has been developed among the staff.
“When I took office, I decreased the budget by 4 percent and lowered the overall cost to our six contract law enforcement communities by a combined $60,000. I have continued to work hard at keeping our budget at a manageable level.
“I put in place a Policy and Procedure Manual, which had not been done for 25 years.
“Staff training is vastly improved, which provides for the best possible Sheriff’s Office.
“We have become one of the leading agencies in the area to use social media and technology to help inform the public about all types of events, emergency and otherwise.
“Our Website, which I created during my first term as Sheriff, contains valuable information.
“An additional benefit is we no longer have to fax our press releases, which saves money and time.
“I developed a Facebook page to interact with the public in a variety of formats – real time news, press release updates, photos, videos and events.
“I have started a Twitter account, which allows us to post real-time events.
“In 2009, we were one of the first in Iowa to begin utilizing the “Nixle” program, which has become nationally renown. It allows us to send out messages to the public via e-mail and-or text messages.
“We developed a whole new concept for the Emergency Management Coordinator. A full-time deputy sheriff now mans the position. This has stabilized the office and brought very positive results for Sioux County.
“We’ve developed one of the first School Resource Officer programs for non-metropolitan areas in Iowa. This program has been very beneficial to our schools and our youth. It also has improved relationships between students and law enforcement officers.
“I refashioned the Communications Center, because of its inadequate design. I have also introduced the use of two dispatchers, to provide better communication services to our people.
“After the search efforts for a 4-year-old in 2005, we totally reorganized the Sioux County Dive Team. Since that time our team has assisted with many area water emergencies.
“Our Canine Unit now consists of two highly trained dogs. They have won several state and national awards. They have also been instrumental in many drug arrests. The canine unit is also used in school, business and community programs.
“We have trained a deputy sheriff as a Drug Recognition Expert, which has led to numerous arrests,” said Altena.
Several future challenges for the county still remain. These include traffic safety, illegal drug and alcohol use, juvenile crime, suspicious persons and emergency events such as tornados, flooding, etc.
“As the Sioux County Sheriff, I supervise 55 employees, consisting of administrative assistants, communication operators, deputy sheriffs, jailers, kitchen staff and maintenance personnel. The staff at the sheriff’s office operates 24-7, 365 days a year. It’s a big job, an important job. I’ve worked very hard to develop an efficient, quality public safety agency, which we now have. As sheriff I do my best to model honesty, integrity, trust, justice and respect. I will always work hard for the people of Sioux County,” said Altena.