(Le Mars) — After spending 46 years in local law enforcement, Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo is going to take on a new job. Earlier in the year Van Otterloo announced he would retire his position as the sheriff for Plymouth County. At the same time he said he would pursue running for a position with the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. Long-time county supervisor Mark Loutsch had announced he would not seek re-election to the county governing board. Van Otterloo decided to run for the seat being vacated by Loutsch. As it turned out, Van Otterloo did not have any opposition for the supervisor position, either in a primary, or for the general election. But let’s go back in time to 1974 when Van Otterloo initially decided he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. Van Otterloo says he approached Chief Jim Heck, the Le Mars Police Chief at the time and introduced himself indicating he would like to be considered for a position as an officer with the Le Mars Police Department.
Van Otterloo was a captain with the Le Mars Police Department and had served 16 and a half years and had his eyes on the position of one day serving as the Le Mars Police Chief when he was approached by then Sheriff Dave Stock asking him if he would consider running for the position of county sheriff.
Although Van Otterloo didn’t face any opposition in his first general election. Prior to the general election, Van Otterloo had to get past the primary election which put him up against Remsen Police Chief Kevin Rollins. Van Otterloo says he was able to defeat Rollins in the primary by only one vote, when a delegate had stood up and requested a re-count of the ballots. Following the second count of the votes from the Plymouth County Republican delegates, Van Otterloo again was victorious by having won by one vote. Since that time, Van Otterloo faced opposition on only a few occasions.
Check back to this website page for the continuation series as we feature Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo as he transitions to his new job as a county supervisor.
We continue our conversation with Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo as he ends his 46 years of law enforcement and transitions to his new position as a Plymouth County Supervisor. During Van Otterloo’s tenure as the sheriff for Plymouth County, voters decided to vote for a one-percent local options sales tax with the revenue to go toward the construction of the Plymouth County Law Enforcement Center. The facility houses the sheriff’s office, jail, and the county communications center. Van Otterloo says the project garnered support through out the entire county.
Van Otterloo says many people still refer to the sheriff’s office and local corrections facility as the “new jail.” Even though it was constructed 17 years ago.
The long-time county sheriff says Plymouth County certainly needed the upgraded facility as the workload and new technology dictated additional use of space.
Van Otterloo says there would be no way with today’s technology that the old facility would be able to accommodate just even the communications center, let alone the jail. The outgoing sheriff recalls an incident that occurred in the former jail, that today, he can look back on and laugh, but at the time it happened, it was thought to be a serious concern.
We will conclude our conversation with Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo tomorrow as he talks about the relationships he has established with other law enforcement officials and county officials.
We conclude our three-part series focusing on long-time Plymouth County Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo as he begins his new job of being a Plymouth County Supervisor. Van Otterloo says he will forever cherish the relationships that he has been able to build and maintain with his staff, other agencies, and with county officials. During his more than 30 years serving Plymouth County as its sheriff, Van Otterloo saw the need to expand his staff to better serve the needs of the growing county. He says he is
appreciative of the board of supervisors, both past and present, for recognizing the need to expand the sheriff’s staff.
Van Otterloo says he is fortunate in the fact that he can’t think of a single cold case that did not get resolved.
Unfortunately, the long-term sheriff has had to deal with more than 300 deaths during his tenure, whether they be homicides, suicides, deaths from natural causes, or from fatal traffic accidents. He says he always felt that it is
the responsibility of the sheriff to be informed and involved in some manner when a death had occurred.
Van Otterloo says each and every death has had its own set of unique circumstances, and none of them were identical and alike. Van Otterloo says when going to the scene of a death, he reminds himself to focus on the issue at hand, and he tries to put aside emotions for a later time. Van Otterloo gives a great deal of credit to his wife for being a spiritual and emotional
counselor after he has had to deal with a tough situation.
Van Otterloo speaks fondly of the relationships that developed because of his job as the county sheriff.
The retiring sheriff says he wants to continue with those relationships, and that is a main reason why he is switching jobs to become a county supervisor.
Van Otterloo says he doesn’t have any specific goals in mind for when he begins his duties as a supervisor beginning on Monday, but believes his more than 30 years as the sheriff will be able to provide some insight relating to county governing issues.
After more than 30 years as the county sheriff, Van Otterloo says he tried to perform his duties following a biblical verse.
Sheriff Mike Van Otterloo…thank you for your 30 plus years for your service to Plymouth County.