With the announced retirement of Harrison County Sheriff Pat Sears, effective on Dec. 31, three law enforcement professionals have declared their candidacy for the position on the Republican ticket in the county primary on June 2.
The primary will determine which of them moves forward to the general election in November. Only one candidate from each party will be voted on at that time.
The three candidates to date are Harrison County Chief Deputy Brandon Doiel, Missouri Valley Police Chief Ed Murray, and Woodbine Police Chief Michael Jensen.
Though these men have announced their candidacy, they are not yet allowed to file the paperwork. The first day they may do so is Monday, March 2, and the final day is Wednesday, March 25.
At that time, candidates are also required to submit their nomination signature forms. Each Democratic candidate is required to collect 32 Harrison County signatures and each Republican candidate must submit 61 Harrison County signatures to be an official candidate.
Iowa code calls for a minimum of 100 signatures on the nomination petition, or two percent of the total number of registered voters in each party at the last general election, whichever is less.
Harrison County Auditor Susan Bonham explained that there were more Republican voters than Democrats at the last general election.
Any Harrison County voters who wish to vote for any of these three candidates in the primary will have to be registered to vote as a Republican. Party affiliation can be changed at any time, and then changed back again.
Missouri Valley Police Chief
26 years law enforcement experience
“We are all three great guys,” Murray said. “Hopefully, when this is all said and done, we will all continue to work together.”
Following graduation from high school in Onawa, Murray attended Western Iowa Tech Community College and earned an Associate of Applied Science degree in Police Science Technology.
In 1988, he was hired as an Onawa Police Officer and continued in that capacity until July 1993 when he took a deputy position with the Monona County Sheriff’s Office.
Three years later he returned to Onawa PD as the Assistant Chief of Police. In October 1997, he was appointed Onawa Chief of Police.
During that same time, Murray earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Bellevue University in Bellevue, Neb.
“I always challenge myself,” he said. “I can never do enough.”
In January 2000, he switched his focus, leaving the Onawa Police Department to work in the insurance industry while he earned his Paralegal Certificate from Northeast Community College in Norfolk, Neb.
Murray returned to law enforcement in June 2005 when he accepted the position of Chief of Police in Missouri Valley. At that time, Murray was a newly single father of four boys.
“It wasn’t easy, but if I had to do it over, I wouldn’t change a thing,” he said.
His son Andrew is currently a senior at Missouri Valley High School and Alex is a junior. Sons Michael and Josh both graduated from MVHS.
Though he is content in Missouri Valley, Murray pushes himself to continue learning.
“I believe in education, and I believe in training,” Murray said. He has more than 600 documented hours. “I feel that training is your best asset.”
He is also an adjunct instructor for Western Iowa Tech Community College, teaching classes on corrections and criminal justice.
Since September 2011, Murray has instructed an average of eight classes each year.
In September 2012, he was asked to teach the eight-week course needed to become a certified police officer at the Law Enforcement Regional Academy in Sioux City.
Murray has instructed courses in minority relations, criminal investigations, and domestic abuse. He is currently a motor vehicle law instructor and is approved to teach courses in report writing, death investigations, crisis intervention, and interviews and interrogations.
He is a member of the Iowa Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Association of Chiefs of Police, is a former member of the Iowa Death Investigators Association, and is a member of the advisory board for the Iowa Law Enforcement Regional Academy in Sioux City.
Murray said Harrison County, like so many counties and communities throughout the nation, is suffering from a mental health crisis.
“I am not going to say that I am going to change this and that. I don’t know what, if anything, needs to be changed,” he said. “The obvious thing in Harrison County is drug abuse, but we have a mental health problem that is larger than life right now. We have an epidemic. The Code of Iowa gives the sheriff more responsibility to deal with mental health issues.”
He said that the sheriff’s office is tasked with transfers for these concerns. With few facilities and limited spaces at them, those who suffer from mental health crises are relegated to a 24- to 48-hour hold at the local emergency room or jail.
“I have been through a lot in my life that has helped me with my job tremendously. I chose the justice symbol in my (campaign) logo because it represents fairness, and it also means weighing all the evidence before doing anything,” he said. “I believe in treating someone fairly. It just fit. In law enforcement, you have to treat everyone fairly and you have to look at everything before you act.”
Harrison County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy
16 years experience
Brandon Doiel began his law enforcement career at the Missouri Valley Police Department in 2004.
He was hired the following year as a deputy at the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office where he has worked since. In 2018 he was promoted to Chief Deputy and Jail Administrator.
“I am right underneath the sheriff, and I assist him overseeing the other eight deputies and daily operations,” he said. “I guide the other deputies in investigations and anything we have.”
In addition to being Sheriff Pat Sears’ right-hand man, Doiel oversees every aspect of the Harrison County Jail. He supervises 11 jailers, manages daily operations of the 24-bed facility, and schedules the jailers for the facility 24/7.
Doiel is a graduate of Missouri Valley Community School District and the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy with both Law Enforcement Certification and Jail Management and Jail Medication Certifications.
He updates those annually and is a member of the Iowa State Sheriffs and Deputies Association and the past Harrison County Peace Officers Association.
Doiel has certification for Incident Command Training through Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management, as well as Interview and Interrogation certification from Iowa Western Community College.
He holds certification from the Division of Criminal Investigation to perform Direct Breath Alcohol Analysis using the DataMaster CDM, ARIDE Certification for Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement Training – drugged driving, and has completed training for Alco-Sensor FST, CPR, first-aid and AED, annual weapons for taser, handgun, shotgun, and rifle.
He is a certified trainer for ALICE, which is preparing staff and students for an active shooter situation, as well as Standardized Field Sobriety Testing.
His top goal is to refine community and law enforcement relations.
“I’d like to see more of a presence in schools,” Doiel said. “I think they would be more comfortable with (law enforcement) and more approachable for (law enforcement).”
Doiel lives in rural Magnolia with his wife, Amy, and their two children, Ashlyn, who is a junior at Logan-Magnolia High School, and Hayden, who is in his second year of college in Ames.
Doiel said he has been a fair, dependable, and open-minded teammate with the sheriff’s office, as well as a leader who is able to make decisions and guide others.
“I possess a degree of professionalism that motivates others by leading by example,” Doiel stated. “I also have a strong work ethic with a proactive mindset focused on building a better and safer community together.”
Woodbine Police Chief
10 years experience
Michael Jensen began as a Woodbine Police Officer in 2010, and in mid-2014, he became Chief of the Woodbine force.
Jensen sees himself as an effective communicator, leader, and trainer.
The Woodbine department has spent as much time building strong community ties as possible under Jensen.
“We concentrate on getting out and working with different organizations in town and the school,” he said.
As a leader, Jensen said he prefers to be proactive, and his department works well with others. He views community involvement as an integral part of the job.
“Community engagement is a big thing. We try to talk with the kids,” he said. “The sheriff’s office is a busy place, but you have to be inventive in ways to be proactive. People will come up to you and say, ‘Hey, I don’t know what’s going on at my neighbor’s house…’ You’ll get that standing at a basketball game eating a bag of popcorn.”
Jensen and his department have participated in STEM nights at the school, and they make community engagement a priority so the residents know the officers are interested in their everyday life.
“They see that you are interested,” he said. “That is something I am very good at.”
He would like to see the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office do the same thing.
“If (a deputy) is serving papers in Mondamin, and you drive around town a little bit and see 100 cars sitting outside the school, walk in, buy a bag of popcorn, and stand at the wrestling meet for five or 10 minutes,” he added. “Believe it or not, you are still doing your job. You are making your department more visible. The first interaction a kid has with a cop should not be when they start driving and they goof up and get caught.”
Finally, he emphasized taking the fullest advantage of each deputy’s strengths on the jobs for which they are best equipped.
“You wouldn’t use your best investigator for daily transports,” Jensen said. “If you’ve got a really good investigator investigating something, and it comes down to doing computer (work), don’t make one work at it until he is ready to pull his hair out if you’ve got someone who is really good at that.”
He also prioritizes continuing education, and as a leader, Jensen said he is constantly learning and teaching. He sends officers to trainings to do the same.
Jensen is a member of the Iowa Law Enforcement Intelligence Network. He was previously a radar and LIDAR instructor. LIDAR, according to Wikipedia, is a surveying method that measures distance to a target by illuminating the target with laser light and measuring the reflected light with a sensor.
Currently, Jensen is a certified instructor in firearms, defensive tactics, and GRACIE, which is a defensive tactics and firearm retention technique.
“I’m not the only one to go to an interview/interrogations class in the last three years, both my officers did as well,” he said. “It’s better if they learn from someone other than just me.”
That training allows officers to learn how to make informed decisions when talking with witnesses and suspects.
Jensen concluded that all of the area departments work well together and will continue serving the people and the communities of Harrison County.
“The sheriff’s office helps us out whenever we need it,” he said. “We are all professionals, and we all work together.”