Meet the candidates
Quinn, Hammann finalists for police chief
Community leaders were given the opportunity to meet and learn about the two candidates vying to be the next Fort Dodge chief of police on Wednesday.
Current Police Chief Roger Porter announced last fall his plans to retire April 4 of this year. Soon after, the city’s Civil Service Commission began searching for his replacement. In February, the search was narrowed down to one internal candidate — FDPD Capt. Dennis Quinn — and one external candidate — Christopher Hammann, chief of police in New Haven, Missouri.
Quinn and Hammann spent much of Wednesday being interviewed by three panels of community leaders. According to Fort Dodge City Manager David Fierke, there were about 20 people on the panels, and they included community members, city staff and current police officers.
“I got great feedback from all the groups on what they saw, what rang well with them … it’s great to do it this way,” Fierke said.
The Civil Service Commission received six applications for police chief, Fierke said. Quinn and Hammann were the only two to qualify with the Civil Service Police Chief Test.
“It’s something that we strive for, to have good internal candidates,” Fierke said. “Having a succession plan within the department means you have a healthy leadership in the department. And having interest in a candidate from out of state is good.”
Fierke said he would have liked to have more candidates eligible for the position, but he said that can be tough with fewer people going into law enforcement nationwide.
Fierke said he will take into consideration the candidates’ applications, interviews and the feedback from the panels who interviewed the candidates on Wednesday, in order to make his selection to present to the City Council.
“I’m really appreciative of all the people that gave their time to help us with this process,” he said. “It’s an important job in the city. It’s got a lot of visibility, especially visibility when things may not be going really well, so it’s really something that’s important we make the right decision.”
Fierke said he did not have an expected timeline of when that decision would be made, but if an appointment isn’t made by Porter’s last day on April 4, Fierke said the city will appoint an acting chief to fill in in the interim.
‘This is my hometown’
Capt. Dennis Quinn has been with the Fort Dodge Police Department since 2008. After working many years in construction, at age 30, Quinn decided to make a career change and become a police officer.
Quinn served as a patrol officer until he was promoted to patrol sergeant in 2015. He served in that role until he was promoted to patrol lieutenant in July 2017. In January 2020, he became lieutenant of the Criminal Investigations Division, until he was promoted to his current role as captain of CID in November 2020.
In addition to his role with the FDPD, Quinn has served with the joint FDPD and Webster County Sheriff’s Office’s Special Emergency Response Team. He is currently the commander of SERT.
Quinn, a Fort Dodge native and graduate of St. Edmond Catholic High School, attended Iowa Central Community College and the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. In 2015, he completed the FBI’s Leadership Trilogy training and just last month earned a school of police staff and command certificate from the Northwestern University Center for Public Safety.
Quinn said he’s spent the better part of the last year preparing for this process of applying for police chief. On Wednesday, he was relieved to be finished with the interviews.
“I think I did pretty well,” he said. “It’s been a difficult process, but it’s been a good process because, regardless [of the outcome], it’s more experience.”
Quinn believes being an internal candidate for the position is part of what makes him stand out for the role because it provides some continuity within the FDPD.
“I like the idea of an internal candidate, somebody that knows the department,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of change in officer personnel over the last couple years, so I think me taking that role will help to keep our department stable and keep us moving in the right direction.”
His familiarity with the officers is also an advantage, he said, because they already know his leadership style and he already knows the department inside and out.
“Having someone they know, I think, will lead a lot toward keeping us moving in the direction we’re moving right now, keeping it nice and stable,” Quinn said. “I think we’re going in a wonderful direction right now. We have a lot of great officers, young officers. Everybody who was hired in the last couple years is doing a great job.”
Over the last couple years, the FDPD has had to deal with several shooting incidents, some that may be linked to gang violence. Quinn said he wants to combat this issue by adding more officers to the force — something the department attempted during this year’s city budget planning, but was unsuccessful.
“Obviously that involves money, something that’s clearly a big obstacle for everybody no matter what, but that’s something I want to keep pushing,” he said. “I know that every one of the council and city leaders want that as well. We have the support of doing it, we’ve just got to figure out how to do it.”
Increasing the number of officers in the department allows them to increase the number of officers patrolling out on the streets, and would allow the PD to better support extra patrols in areas that are seeing an increase in crime, Quinn said.
If Quinn is appointed chief, he said he plans to stay in the role until retirement.
“This is my hometown — I don’t plan on moving anywhere,” he said. “This is where my family is, this is where I will work until I retire. I’m not going anywhere.”
Even if Quinn isn’t selected for the position, he said, he’ll still proudly wear the FDPD badge.
“I still love this job, so I get to keep doing it one way or another tomorrow, no matter what.”
‘A lot of things in my toolbox’
Chris Hammann is currently the police chief for New Haven, Missouri, a position he’s held since December 2018. He previously served as the chief in Vandalia, Missouri., and New Bloomfield, Missouri.
A native of Jefferson City, Missouri, Hammann spent 1996-2001 serving in the Army at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. He said he chose to pursue a career in law enforcement because his sister was killed by a drunk driver in 2005 and his brother died by suicide in 1997.
Hammann also has 16 years of experience as a volunteer firefighter with the Cole County Fire Protection District in Missouri and has previously served as an emergency management agency director.
Hamman has both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in criminal justice administration from Columbia College.
In 2018, Hammann received the Merit Award for Excellent Arrest from the American Police Hall of Fame. Hammann has also received a Purple Heart Award from the same organization in 2021 after being stabbed by a suspect.
Hammann said wanted to apply for the FDPD chief position because he was looking to relocate and he likes the Fort Dodge area.
In Hammann’s current role as chief of police in New Haven, he oversees four full-time officers and one part-time officer in a town with a population of 2,414. In comparison, Fort Dodge has 40 sworn officers and a population of about 25,000. Hammann said he doesn’t foresee any difficulties with the size difference.
“I don’t see any challenge,” he said. “As long as you have a good command structure in place and good officers, you just continue business as usual and make the changes that are needed and continue to provide excellent service to the public.”
Hammann said he enjoyed interviewing with the panels on Wednesday.
“The staff was very welcoming,” he said. “This has been a very user-friendly process. Everything’s been wonderful.”
Hammann said “it’s always hard when you go against an internal candidate,” but believes his experience as a supervisor in the military and in law enforcement, as well as in the private sector when he helped run a service company with 17 technicians across five states, is what makes him the right candidate for the role.
“That diversity of experience makes me a good fit for Fort Dodge,” he said. “I’m also a certified municipal official. I’ve served on the boards of Crime Stoppers, Mid Mo [Mid-Missouri] Major Case Squad, the East Central Drug Task Force, Franklin County Narcotics.”
He’s also a deputy U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Missouri.
“I know I’m young and maybe not have the experience of Mr. Quinn, but I do have a lot of things in my toolbox,” he said.
The Messenger also asked Hammann about his thoughts on how he would approach the issue of shootings in Fort Dodge.
“I think you have to work with the community leaders in those areas,” he said. “And work on education and outreach and try to curb some of that activity.”
Hammann is also a finalist for the chief of police position in Ypsilanti, Michigan. However, he said, Fort Dodge is his top choice.