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
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
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 it's own police department)
to provide their law enforcement. Presently there are 11 full time county
officers, and up to 15 reserve or part time 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
|Normal duties of a
Investigate criminal activity
Perform community policing
Serve civil process
Some of the areas Mills County Deputies have specialized in are as
Abandoned vehicle officer
Drug recognition expert
Defensive tactics instructor