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Three new deputies joined the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office after being sworn in last week. They are, from left, Thomas “T.J.” Allen, Melissa Schmidt and Stephen Thayer.

Their rigid posture bespoke the solemnity of the moment. 

One by one, Thomas “T.J.” Allen, Melissa Schmidt and Stephen Thayer stood in front of the American flag in the supervisor’s office as their friends and family smiled.

Schmidt, Thayer and Allen raised their right hand then swore to protect and defend Jackson County and its residents. Armed with that oath and badges pinned on by loved ones, the three joined the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as deputies last week.

The brief swearing-in ceremony took place during the Jackson County Board of Supervisor’s 9 a.m. meeting Feb. 9 in the county courthouse. Friends and family, clad in masks, applauded as the new deputies recited the oath.

Deputy Allen hails from the Maquoketa area. He earned his associate’s degree in criminal justice from Clinton Community College then graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy.

During his first five years in law enforcement, Allen was a member of teams focused on special response and crisis intervention. He also was a field training officer. 

Allen was hired full-time as the courthouse security officer, replacing Brad Staner, who resigned last month. Allen also will fill in shifts at the sheriff’s office.

He and his wife are both originally from the Maquoketa area and enjoy family time and riding side-by-sides.

Deputy Schmidt is Jackson County’s first female sheriff’s deputy, according to county sheriff Brent Kilburg, who administered the oath of office last week.

Schmidt’s law enforcement career spans 13 years as a policewoman in Sabula, Bellevue, and Preston, where she was the police chief. 

She took a 13-year hiatus from policing to teach alternative high school for 13 years in Clinton and Goose Lake. She worked the past four years for the Bellevue Police Department.

Schmidt also works for Paramount EMS and Bellevue EMS, having graduated from Northeast Iowa Community College’s paramedic program.

She graduated from the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy, from Mount St. Clare College with a bachelor’s degree in education, and completed her rescue diver certification.

“My mom always wanted to be a police officer, but back then there were height requirements,” Schmidt said Feb. 9, laughing as her much-shorter mother pinned on her badge.

Schmidt and her husband, Dan, have six children.

Deputy Thayer was born and raised in Jackson County, having lived in Sabula his entire life. 

His law enforcement career began in 2011 when he was hired as a reserve officer with the Sabula Police Department. He then worked several years as a nuclear security officer and as a federal correctional officer before being hired as policeman in Preston.

After Preston Police Chief Scott Heiar was hired as a full-time Jackson County deputy earlier this year, the City of Preston promoted Thayer to police chief. He will serve the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office as a part-time deputy.

He lives with his girlfriend, her two children, and his daughter. They enjoy being in the outdoors.

Schmidt, Thayer, and Allen join a sheriff’s department with three other new faces added in 2021, including the newly elected sheriff, chief deputy James Kraker, and Heiar, who was promoted from part-time to full-time deputy.

Also on staff are deputies Brandon Beck, Chad Gruver, Corey Kettmann, Russ Long, Chad Roeder and Terry Roling, with civil administrator Kim Clark, criminal administrator Karen Wells and interim jail administrator Andrew Long. 

Former jail administer Adam Pape resigned effective Feb. 10. Kilburg recommended hiring Andrew Long, son of deputy Russ Long, as the interim jail administrator due to his broad experience working both in the Jackson County Jail as well as other area detention centers.

Kilburg planned to make a decision about hiring a full-time jail administrator after the March 2 jail bond referendum vote, he told the Jackson County Board of Supervisors Feb. 2.