Dennis Quakenbush Talks Family, Experience & Goals As New Hamilton County Sheriff
Photographer: Amy Payne
Meet Dennis Quakenbush. He’s the Captain of the Patrol Division at the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office, and now the Sheriff-elect for Hamilton County. Most voters know by now that Quakenbush isn’t the typical political candidate.
The life-long Hamilton County resident is a devoted family man with a wife and four boys who like playing basketball and other games with his kids, golfing, hunting and backpacking, just like most other dads. He’s been with the Sheriff’s department for 16 years, but he got his start in business.
Quakenbush earned his undergrad degree in Business Management and an MBA in Business Administration. It seemed like a logical course of study for him. He grew up learning the family business — his father’s construction company. But a career in business and the corporate world wasn’t on his radar.
“I have a passion for serving, helping people in need and putting others first,” Quakenbush says. “I like being able to make a huge impact by keeping people safe every day.”
While keeping citizens safe is his passion, he still values his business training and background. Quakenbush and his wife own a small marketing and graphic design company and small property investing business.
“I’m not your classic government politician,” he says. “I come from the business world, and I look at things from the perspective of a taxpayer.”
His 16 years of experience in the department also set him apart. A deputy who spent his time moving up in the ranks in the department, Quakenbush started in the department as a dispatcher before becoming a Sergeant then being promoted to Captain of the Patrol Division. For the last eight years, he has been a part of the leadership team at the Sheriff’s Office.
“I built relationships with community leaders and other law enforcement partners, and I’m already working with them to put policies in place,” he says. “I’ve been a part of the department that set the foundation for where we are today. This is just a logical progression.”
Quakenbush, now the Sheriff-elect, will take on his new role on January 1st.
“All of the candidates in this race had good ideas to offer,” he says. “The political process is designed to let all candidates bring their best ideas forward for the position. We may not always agree, but the exchange of all those ideas gives a fresh perspective. All the candidates have their hearts in the right place. I’m honored the citizens of Hamilton County have put their trust in me. I will work hard to live up to that vote of confidence.”
Staying safe in our community is on everyone’s minds lately. The incident at Noblesville West Middle School rocked everyone to the core, and rest assured, it’s a priority on the new Sheriff’s mind.
“I live in Hamilton County, so it impacts me directly,” Quakenbush says. “I want to live in one of the safest communities in America for my family and yours. A school shooting here in our community was the last thing people would have expected, but the law enforcement community was well prepared. It’s hard when it affects so many people you know at church and in the community. But rest assured, all our law enforcement departments are sharing the best ideas to ensure everyone’s safety. Hamilton County is ahead of the game by having school resource officers, policies and procedures in place and some of the best training offered. Everyone followed all the right procedures. We couldn’t ask for more.”
Besides school safety, Quakenbush and his department are focusing on another initiative. Managing the county’s jail population.
“We will have a big impact on the safety of our community through our efforts in the jail, he says. “Connecting the right inmates with the right community services and programs can help reduce the likelihood of them reoffending.”
The agency offers high school equivalency, counseling services, mental health services, mentoring programs, AA, NA and partners with Prevail, Transformations, Aspire and other community agencies.
“Our role is and always will be to pursue and carry out justice,” Quakenbush says. “We want to hold people accountable for their crimes, but we see plenty of non-violent offenders and we want to work to connect them with the valuable services and community resources to get them help with rehabilitation, jobs and counseling. If someone is ready to make a change in their life, we want to play our role in that redemptive process.”
Now that the campaign is over and the year winds down, Quakenbush plans to continue to work hard to keep Hamilton County safe.
“I look forward to continuing to collaborate with other law enforcement agencies in our community,” he says. “It’s important that all of us know we’re not alone in our efforts. In the meantime, we want to remind all citizens that everyone in society is responsible for the safety of our community. Call us to report suspicious activity, look out for your neighbors, be involved in your community like your church and your children’s schools. It makes a difference.”