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Law and order

Hamilton County Sheriff Denny Hagenson retires after 12 years

December 9, 2016
OurHomeTownWebsterCity.com

Denny Hagenson has been involved in law enforcement for 46 years, the last 12 years as Hamilton County Sheriff. Later this month, Hagenson will step down from that office.

"Time has flown," said Hagenson, 69, "This is such a nice community. I just love the county." He and wife, Vickie, live in Webster City.

Hagenson grew up in Thompson, Iowa and graduated from high school there in 1965. He attended the Institute of Medical Technique in Minneapolis with hopes of becoming a lab and x-ray technician.

Article Photos

- Daily Freeman-Journal photo by Adri Sietstra
Hamilton County Sheriff Denny Hagenson is pictured above in his office at the Hamilton County Sheriffs Office. Hagenson will be retiring from his position at the end of the year.

In January of 1967, he began working with 3M Company at the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant, where he was a nuclear medical research technician.

"We were involved with lung scanning agents and brain scanning agents, working with radioactive material," said Hagenson.

Hagenson was drafted into military service and attended basic training at Fort Campbell, KY, later going to Fort Gordon, GA for MP school.

Hagenson explained that while filling out paperwork for the army, there was a section asking about levels of security clearances individuals held. At the time, he did not realize his former work experience would prevent him from going overseas.

"When I worked for 3M Company, to do research, I had 24-hour access to get into the labs for 3M and also 24-hour access to get into the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant,which was part of the Department of Defense," Hagenson said. "Being a little hayseed from Iowa, I didn't understand how this all worked together."

"Then I was getting ready to be shipped out to Vietnam and they pulled two of us out of the ranks. We were given special orders. Since I had a background working in nuclear materials, they put me down at Killeen Base, TX (now formally known as Fort Hood) guarding nuclear warheads," he said.

"I had given a bunch of my stuff away. I said, 'hell, I'm going to 'Nam'," said Hagenson. "Your chances of coming back were not good. Then I got there and they pulled us out of line and said we were going to Killeen Base, which is part of the Department of Defense."

Hagenson recalled memories of guarding Former President Lyndon B. Johnson's plane when he would fly in to his nearby ranch. Johnson would fly into Robert Gray Army Airfield.

"He would fly down to Gray Army Airfield on U.S. One. It would sit there over the weekend. He would helicopter off and do whatever Presidents do on their ranches and then we stood guard because we all carried top-secret clearances."

Hagenson served in the military from 1967 to 1969. His time spent in the labs and military led to his career in law enforcement, something Hagenson said he'd never considered.

"I'd never thought about being in law enforcement growing up. I was going to join the medical field and save the world," Hagenson said. "That's how things change."

He moved to Webster City in 1973 to work for Hamilton County Conservation as a park officer.

"So that's how we got located down here in Webster City," said Hagenson. "We've been here ever since."

He attended the law enforcement academy, graduating in February 1977.

When cuts came to the conservation office in 1994, Hagenson decided to test and apply for the Hamilton County Sheriff's Office. His friend Scott Anderson was sheriff there.

"I was hired on here in 1994 and have been here ever since," Hagenson said. "When Sheriff Anderson retired in 2004, I ran for election and took office in 2005."

"This is a great county to represent. It makes me feel good that they gave me this opportunity and allowed me to be their sheriff for 12 years," he said.

With the badge comes long hours and often dangerous situations. Hagenson recalled several difficult calls on the job, including drownings and the search for missing children.

"It's hard on families when you work in law enforcement because it's not an eight-to-five job," said Hagenson. "Whenever you make a stop, it could be just a simple traffic stop, you don't know what the person is thinking or where they are coming from, that gave you the probable cause to stop their vehicle."

Hagenson said he's looking forward to enjoying time with his children and grandchildren.

"Hopefully in retirement I will have more time to spend with my family," said Hagenson.

Hagenson has been an active member in the community since moving to Webster City in 1973.

Hagenson has been teaching hunter's safety since in 1973. He received the Hunter Education Program Outdoor Heritage Award in June for his 42 years of service. Hagenson became a certified firearms instructor in 1997. Hagenson has been involved with Hamilton County Pheasants Forever since the late 70's. He became a D.A.R.E. instructor at Northeast Hamilton in 1995. Hagenson did that until he was elected sheriff in 2005.

Hagenson has been an active member in his church and was a former president of the Kamrar Lions Club. He's a longtime member of the Boone Valley Izaak Walton League and Hamilton County Saddle Club.

Since becoming a sheriff, Hagenson has been a member of the Iowa State Sheriff and Deputies Association. Ten years ago, he was appointed to the Public Relations committee of the association. Hagenson has served as chairperson for the last five years.

"It's such a great organization," Hagenson.

Hagenson also works with the S.A.L.T. Program (Seniors and Lawmen Together), and Hamilton County Crimestoppers.

"It's a great bunch of officers. The way we work with the State Patrol, Webster City Police Department, Hamilton County Conservation, the DNR officers, we all have to depend on each other," said Hagenson. "We all work together."

Although he is retiring, Hagenson plans to stay involved in different community groups and organizations. Hagenson will continue his role as chairperson for the Iowa State Sheriff and Deputies Association, remain active with the Boone Valley Ikes/hunter's safety instruction, Hamilton County Peace Officers Association, S.A.L.T., and Crimestoppers.

He said the first day of retirement will be the first day he won't have to report to at least one job.

"I have never been without a job. Many times I was working two or three," he said.

Hagenson credits many staff members at the sheriff's office for their hard work during his time served as sheriff, including nine sheriff's deputies, three administrative/office assistants, 14 jailers, jail administrator, and seven dispatchers.

"It takes everybody participating together to make this work," he said. "I couldn't be more proud of the staff. I love the people of the community. You can't thank the community enough."

With Hagenson retiring at the end of December, Doug Timmons, of Stratford, will be taking over as Hamilton County Sheriff in January.

"He will make an excellent sheriff. Absolutely," Hagenson said. "We had a total of four people run for sheriff. The other three that did not win all handled themselves professionally. Any one of the four would have been a good sheriff. Doug worked hard and won. I feel confident that he will do the county a good job."

With 12 years as Hamilton County Sheriff and over 40 years of law enforcement experience, Hagenson is confident that he served the people of Hamilton County to the best of his abilities.

"Hopefully I've done my best to support our staff here. Making sure they have their equipment to do their jobs and get them home safe at night," said Hagenson. "I hope I've done a good job for the community."

 
 
 

 

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