CLINTON — One of three Republicans seeking their party’s nomination for Clinton County sheriff is Clinton Deputy Police Chief Bill Greenwalt.
“I’ve been in law enforcement for nearly 32 years,” Greenwalt said this week. Born and raised in Clinton, Greenwalt is the son of Sarah and the late Larry Greenwalt.
He graduated from Clinton High School in 1989 and has been married to his wife Kelly, a probation and parole officer with the Seventh Judicial District, for 24 years. The couple have two daughters, McKennna, 20, and Jamie, 16.
“My path into law enforcement was set pretty early on,” Greenwalt said. His father served for more than 30 years with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office, he said. “My entire adult life has been devoted to public safety.”
At 16, Greenwalt began working part time as an animal control officer with Clinton police, he said. “At 18, I was hired as the City of Clinton’s first public service officer.”
The non-sworn position required Greenwalt to work non-injury traffic accidents, escort wide loads and funeral processions and serve wherever sworn officers are not required.
In 1991, at 19, Greenwalt became one of the youngest officers in the history of the Clinton Police Department, he said. In his second year with the department he became a K-9 handler and spent the next five years with his K-9 partner, Luger.
The pair worked in narcotics, missing persons and apprehending violent criminals. They made countless public presentations at schools and civic groups, Greenwalt said.
“It was a great experience. I spent a lot of time talking to both young and old,” Greenwalt said.
When Luger was retired, Greenwalt went into undercover narcotics enforcement, he said, working with the Blackhawk Area Task Force and throughout Clinton County.
Greenwalt built working relationships with the Iowa Department of Narcotics Enforcement, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire Arms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, he said.
“Narcotics enforcement has always been kind of a passion of mine,” Greenwalt said. “I pride myself on continuing to have that dedication to … narcotics enforcement.”
A large number of crimes, including burglaries and assaults, are directly associated with illegal drugs, Greenwalt said. “We need to dedicate more staff to the problem.”
Greenwalt doesn’t believe any agency in any part of the country can say it’s winning the war on drugs. We have to continue combating it, he said.
“When you take one drug dealer out, others step in to take the role,” Greenwalt said. “I would say that right now, locally, we’ve locked up a lot of drug dealers. We’ve had the assistance of the U.S. attorney’s offices. That helps us seek longer sentences.”
When dealers are charged at the federal level they receive longer sentences, he said. Defendants must serve 85% of their sentences if they are convicted of federal crimes.
Clinton police have implemented a street crimes and targeted enforcement team that puts plain-clothes officers in unmarked cars in high-crime areas.
“They’re looking for the marked police cars,” Greenwalt said. Officers have to think outside the box to get ahead of them.
“That’s something I would like to carry over on a smaller scale to the sheriff’s office,” Greenwalt said.
Greenwalt currently oversees 45 sworn officers and has managed the budget for the last 10 years, he said.
“I’ve been with the police department for 30 years,” Greenwalt said, “but I’ve ... not only served the city, but I’ve assisted throughout the county.”
Greenwalt is the commander of the tactical team that covers the entire county, he said, and responds for any major incident. “I also command the crisis negotiation unit ... [that] serves the entire county.”
Greenwalt oversees the School Resource Officer program and would like to see it expanded throughout the county, he said. “I think the SRO program is so valuable to our communities.”
Greenwalt would like to put body cameras on the deputies if he becomes sheriff. He’d like to start a One Mind Campaign to train deputies for the interactions with people affected by mental illness.
Clinton police use the program, Greenwalt said. He’d like to see it expanded to the Clinton County Sheriff’s Office.
Community relations are important too for law enforcement, Greenwalt said. “One of the programs that I would implement is Coffee with a Cop.” Officers would dedicate time to sit down and talk to residents.
In addition to patrolling and responding to calls, interacting with residents is an important part of creating positive public opinion, Greenwalt said. The concept of community policing is promoted across the county to better engage police officers with the community.