Dallas County Sheriff Chad Leonard swore in one new deputy and promoted five other employees and officers at a special promotional ceremony in the court room on the third floor of the Dallas County Courthouse in Adel on Thursday.
Tom Peterson and Neal Vanderleest were promoted to the rank of sergeant as patrolmen and Heather Renshaw-Roll, Darla O’Banion and Heidi McKibben were promoted to sergeant in the jail.
The promotions, two patrolmen and three jail officers from the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, allow the Department to now have first-line supervisors on each shift throughout the days and nights.
“Now we’re able to assign a sergeant to every shift,” Leonard said. “This way, people aren’t calling me at home every night of the week.”
He said that the employees are “very well-versed” in their standard operating procedures, but that they call him when there are questions. Adding more first-line supervision to each shift will hopefully eliminate some of that.
“This gives them that intermediate step between calling the chief deputies or myself,” Leonard said. “These people here were graded on their knowledge of the standard operating procedures, they were graded on their knowledge of the inter workings of the county and they did a great job.”
Leonard said that having the extra supervisors gives them extra protection, especially on the patrol side of the department, allowing a Sergeant to make a decision on whether or not to call a transport guy in, or if they have enough cars out there on the road and can handle it without hindering public safety.
He said that they have one officer who transports prisoners, but he is only scheduled for 40 hours per week even though the Department transports prisoners 24 hours per day.
“All shifts have to assist with transports,” Leonard said. “Whether they’re mental health transports, or whether they’re inmate transports to and from different jails.”
Peterson also sang the praises of the new leadership.
“It’s very important that we have a lot of young officers and it’s good to have guidance for them,” Peterson said. “… it takes a lot of the load off Chief Deputy (Adam) Infante and Sheriff Leonard.”
Leonard said that it was special to be able to promote Peterson and O’Banion to the rank of sergeant because they were either already there or just starting with the department when he first took over as Sheriff in 2007. Peterson was starting at the same time that Leonard was elected and O’Banion has been working for the Department for “about 20 years,” according to Leonard.
He said he was proud of all of his employees.
“I would like for more people in Dallas County to take an interest in the Sheriff’s Office and actually come out here and meet them,” Leonard said. “I think they’d be impressed with the people that work there and happy with the decisions that we’ve made with the hires.”