Meet the trio running for Tama County Sheriff

Dvorak, Killian, Schmidt seek the Republican nomination

The 2024 primary election in Iowa will take place on Tuesday, June 4, 2024.

Ahead of the Tuesday, June 4 Primary Election, Tama-Grundy Publishing correspondent Michael D. Davis sent questionnaires to the three candidates – Lucas Dvorak, 38, of rural Gladbrook; Trevor J. Killian, 48, of Toledo; and Casey Schmidt, 37, of Dysart – running in the Republican primary for Tama County Sheriff to replace longtime Sheriff Dennis Kucera who is retiring effective the end of the year. All three candidates are currently employed by the Tama County Sheriff’s Office: Dvorak and Killian as detectives/deputies, and Schmidt as a K9 deputy. Killian is also a Command Sergeant Major in the Army.

No candidate filed paperwork for the Democratic primary in the race. The winner of the June 4 Republican primary will run in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2024.

This is the first of a two-part story.

Please list your education and your family.

Dvorak: High School; My wife Ashley and our three children, Drayke, Berkley and Daisy.

Tama County Sheriff Candidate, Detective/Deputy Lucas Dvorak.

Killian: AAS in Police Science and Undergraduate in Command Leadership and Workforce


Schmidt: Bachelor’s Degree in Interdisciplinary Studies – Criminal Justice/Criminology –

Iowa State University; My beautiful wife Cady, two intelligent and beautiful daughters Natalie (11) and Maecy (9), and one strong and courageous son Everett (5).

1. What made you want to get into law enforcement?

Tama County Sheriff Candidate, Detective/Deputy Trevor Killian.

Killian: Becoming involved in law enforcement has been a dream of mine since childhood. From an early age, I was captivated by the idea of serving and protecting my community. As I grew older, my passion for justice and public safety only deepened, solidifying my resolve to pursue a career in law enforcement. My goals were to serve in the Military and become a Police Officer.

Schmidt: Throughout my childhood, I was intrigued by law enforcement because it offers an opportunity to impact the safety and well-being of my community or the communities I serve. Because I have a deep sense of justice, I am passionate about standing up for victims and those who cannot stand up for themselves. I knew that law enforcement could offer the ability to make a positive difference in society, and my time as a law enforcement officer has.

Dvorak: My wife and I were both in college and we had our first baby. I left college to provide for my family. My goal was to become a game warden. I worked for a large farming operation and applied for a position with the Tama County Sheriff’s Office. I got hired a short time later, and it ended up being a calling I didn’t know I had.

2. What is your opinion on legislation regarding the arming of teachers in our schools?

Schmidt: As I type this, Gov. Reynolds has signed House File 2586 into law, which allows permitted and trained school employees to carry firearms on school grounds. Every option for children’s safety in schools needs to be explored and thoroughly researched. Making sure our children and staff know how to respond to emergencies or active threat events is also critical. I strongly believe, politics aside, we need to do everything we can to protect our children physically, mentally, and emotionally. Communities need to have open conversations on what should be done to keep our kids as safe as possible, although it may not be easy to agree on. These conversations are critical because the collaboration between the schools and law

Tama County Sheriff Candidate, K9 Deputy Casey Schmidt.

enforcement will provide expertise, coordination, and tactical support. As an officer in law enforcement, I will play a part in making sure that all the legal requirements are being met.

Dvorak: I teach violent critical incident (active shooter) training in our local schools and that is one of the most asked questions I get. I think the safety of our children is a top priority. I believe if a teacher wants to go through the proper training and learn the laws and can show efficiency with weapon function and accuracy that it should be allowed. I do not think it would be something every teacher would be comfortable with. The training would need to be ongoing.

Killian: I fully support legislation allowing teachers to be armed in schools because I believe it could bolster security and offer an extra level of defense during potential threats. However, stringent measures, including comprehensive training, mental health assessments, and strict protocols, must accompany this policy to ensure the safe and responsible handling of firearms on school premises. The average response time to an event is 15 minutes especially in a rural county like Tama. Preparation and rehearsals with Law Enforcement are vital in fighting against violence in our schools and the protection of our students and staff.

3. Do you think the Tama County Jail needs to be updated or improved upon?

Dvorak: I believe our current facility needs to be updated and expanded. There needs to be an in-depth look into the cost of a new facility compared to what it is costing the county to house inmates outside of the county in other jails. That analysis should include the cost of the Deputies time to transport inmates as well as the coverage Tama County loses when Deputies are tied up transporting inmates. I would prioritize taxpayer dollars as Sheriff.

Killian: Absolutely, we turn so many people away because we don’t have enough bed space as it is. We on average have about 10 to as many as 18 inmates being housed in three other counties daily.

Schmidt: The Tama County Jail is nearing the end of its lifespan. Something needs to be done. We have a responsibility to the taxpayers to plan for the future.

4. Do you think marijuana should be legalized in Iowa?

Killian: I remain hesitant due to the possible repercussions. Despite potential economic benefits, concerns about public health, particularly among young people, and issues related to impaired driving and workplace safety need to be thoroughly addressed. Before any decisions are made, it’s essential to carefully consider all aspects and prioritize the well-being of the community

Schmidt: Legalizing marijuana is decided by the legislators and the people. As an officer in law

enforcement, I will continue to uphold and enforce laws until they are changed.

Dvorak: I do not think marijuana should be legalized in Iowa.

5. What makes you the best candidate?

Schmidt: I am the best candidate because I am a humble leader, and will continue to be so once I am elected as Tama County sheriff. I have been a part of the Tama County Board of

Health, which has brought a unique perspective of how to navigate public health challenges. I have also co-founded Frontlines United, an organization built to reunite active-duty military, veterans, and first responder communities. The Frontlines United organization was built after recognizing the mental health needs that were prevalent in this population. Creating reunions within this community has helped the mental health symptoms within this community. I have been a trained K9 handler for the last 6 years, which has allowed me access to visiting nursing homes, and schools. All of these experiences have allowed me to build positive relationships within the community. I am a good listener and value everyone’s opinion. I am capable of having honest conversations and have a strong sense of responsibility to protect people. I am passionate about the mental health of the community, and I’m objective, accountable, and a problem solver.

Dvorak: I believe my experiences set me apart. I have been dedicated to my job as a Tama County Deputy and Investigator for nearly 15 years. As a firearms instructor, I have mentored many other officers. My leadership as an active shooter instructor for both schools and law enforcement is another area that benefits Tama County. I am on the executive board for the Iowa Narcotics Officers Association (INOA). INOA provides free narcotics related training to law enforcement officers across Iowa as well as raises money for injured officers and families of fallen officers in Iowa. Coaching both football and wrestling as well as serving on the Tama County Fair Board of Directors has been fulfilling and has provided a needed service to my community. I am the candidate who will do everything in my power to stand up for your constitutional rights including your Second Amendment rights.

Killian: As a Command Sergeant Major with nearly 30 years of military service, responsible for a 4.8 million dollar budget, alongside my extensive background in law enforcement, I bring a unique blend of leadership, dedication, responsible budgeting and security expertise to the role of sheriff. Throughout my career, I’ve upheld values of integrity, transparency, and accountability, essential for effective leadership in both fields. In my role as sheriff, I intend to utilize this extensive experience to emphasize community involvement, update our resources, and uphold the utmost standards of fairness and integrity across all operational domains.

6. If you were elected, what are some of the things you would do differently?

Dvorak: I think Sheriff Kucera has done a great job leading the Tama County Sheriff’s Office and has advanced the department recently by keeping up with modern technology. I am currently working with Sheriff Kucera to put together a drone program for the sheriff’s office. I think continuing to move forward and keep up with an ever-evolving world is important to make sure the sheriff’s office is able to serve the citizens of this county to the best of its ability. I would plan to apply for available grants for a School Resource Officer (SRO) for the two districts the Sheriff’s Office covers. There is grant funding available to help with the cost of this position and that is something I want to capitalize on. Keeping students safe should continue to be a priority and an SRO for each district would be a new way of doing that.

Killian: If elected sheriff, I would prioritize community engagement and trust-building initiatives while focusing on officer training and modernizing department resources. Additionally, I would emphasize mental health support for both deputies and the community to address underlying issues and promote overall well-being.

Schmidt: First, I want to thank Dennis Kucera for his years of dedication and service to our county. Thank you, Sheriff, for everything.

Trust is built through effective communication. I ensure we are proactive in keeping the communities informed, especially when there is public concern over specific citizen interactions with law enforcement. You can’t build trust when there is silence from law enforcement. Strong law enforcement leaders should be a loud voice for victims. I also believe that they should provide comprehensive information about the actions of law enforcement and the details of crimes committed by criminals within reason.

As Sheriff, my vision is to have community events and provide opportunities for the public to interact with the Tama County Sheriff’s Office in a relaxed, community-oriented setting. The community needs to have a high level of trust in and be proud of their law enforcement.

I want Tama County Deputies to have comprehensive training, professionalism, and a great connection to the community they serve. With that, I see a group of law enforcement officers who will undoubtedly handle the criminals who wish to harm Tama County.

7. What are the top three goals that you hope to accomplish in your first term as Tama County Sheriff?

Killian: To incorporate a more organized yearly training outline/schedule. Work on getting a community based mental health advocate assigned to Tama County. Build stronger community relationships by being Transparent, Honest, and a Leader in the community.

Schmidt: 1) Renovate the existing jail/sheriff’s office or build a new jail/sheriff’s office facility because of the financial debt. 2) Develop, establish, and implement a comprehensive summer youth camp program along with establishing a presence in local schools. 3) Develop a routine and schedule of regular community meetings, town halls, and public interactions.

Dvorak: 1) I am currently serving on a board for the county working to put together a program to provide mental health and substance abuse counseling in our county with money that has been allocated to Tama County. I want to continue with that to make sure it is completed. 2) Secure funding for SROs to help not only protect our children but also provide a friendly experience between our children and law enforcement. 3) Goal number three would be to continue to make sure that everyone at the sheriff’s office operates with transparency and to provide proactive ways to defend and protect for the citizens of Tama County.

8. What is something that Tama County is in need of that you could provide?

Schmidt: Tama County needs a Sheriff who will be a fierce voice, advocate for its citizens, lead with humility, and engage in conversation. Tama County needs a transparent Sheriff who encourages building trust within the community. Tama County needs a Sheriff to wholeheartedly defend and protect the Constitution and foster strong relationships with community members. I possess all the qualities necessary to be the Sheriff Tama County needs.

Dvorak: I have the utmost respect for Sheriff Kucera and the leadership he has provided. Once he is retired, the county will be in need of another straightforward, knowledgeable, and well-versed Sheriff. I have a backbone, and I am not afraid to stand up for what is right.

Killian: As a new sheriff, I would consider implementing community policing programs, integrating technology for better law enforcement, providing mental health training for officers, initiating youth outreach efforts, fostering diversity and inclusion within the department, offering victim support services, and building collaborative partnerships to address broader social issues. These strategies can enhance trust, safety, and engagement within the county.

9. In all your years of Tama County law enforcement, what is your best memory?

Dvorak: Late one night while on patrol I changed a tire for a couple and their adult son. The couple had come to the US from another country when they were young. He was retired 30 years US military after moving to America as a young adult. Their son was a surgeon in LA. They were waiting for a tow truck to change their tire after they got a flat on their way home from the state fair and they were not sure how to change it. I changed their tire for them so they didn’t have to wait. They were so appreciative. This is a person who moved to this country and served his country a majority of his adult life and they were able to help their son become a surgeon and for me to do something as simple as change a tire for them seemed like an honor for me. Their son a short time later sent a letter thanking me to Sheriff Kucera. It made me realize sometimes such a small deed that seems routine can mean a lot to someone else.

Killian: I have so many and it would be hard to have a favorite, but meeting at the high school every Sunday night to play kickball with members of the community was a highlight.

Schmidt: I can’t seem to pin down one specific best memory. It’s the relationships and lifelong friendships with both my fellow LEOs and community members that I’m most thankful for. Law Enforcement is like a family. We have a very difficult job to do and we depend on our coworkers and partners to help us get that job done safely and successfully. We lean on each other on the job and many of us become like family off duty: celebrating life’s important moments together. Whether it’s a birthday party, 4th of July celebration, one of our kids harvesting their first deer, or just a conversation at Kwik Star in the middle of night shift, we support each other.

10. As Sheriff, how will you set an example of self-policing and accountability for your other officers?

Killian: In my role as Sheriff, I will lead the way in fostering a culture of self-policing and accountability within our department. This involves implementing clear and transparent policies that prioritize ethical behavior and integrity. I will actively participate in training programs focused on de-escalation techniques, cultural awareness, and ethical decision-making to demonstrate my dedication to continual growth and improvement. Additionally, I will establish channels for officers to report misconduct or concerns without fear of reprisal, ensuring that accountability remains a cornerstone of our operations. By setting a strong example and providing avenues for transparency, I aim to earn the trust and respect of both our team and the communities we serve.

Schmidt: I am going to lead with ethical, integrity-driven management and decision-making. Communication and expectations within the organization will be clear. I will encourage and promote a culture that holds us accountable and calls out misconduct. I will perform regular employee evaluations and review policies and procedures that promote accountability and transparency.

Dvorak: I think when it comes to self-policing and accountability, clarity is key. As a leader, it is the Sheriff’s responsibility to clearly define and communicate the expectations of officers. If those high expectations are clearly known, then officers will know exactly what they can be held accountable for. Obeying the law would be the bare minimum of those expectations. In practice, this would be things like reviewing current policies and procedures and adding new ones. Also, we would review and update our shared mission and set of values. Finally, I would work collectively with the officers to set strategic goals that would help the department band together for the greater good.