Emily Ritchie – CEDAR FALLS, IA
The car rolled then sat upside down in the flooding ravine. The driver, trapped, was unable to free himself from the water seeping through the crashed car. University of Northern Iowa’s Detective Dana Jaeger, of Cedar Falls, did what he had to do. He smashed the window and pulled the driver out.
After graduating from Hawkeye Community College with a degree in police science, Jaeger has been a part of the university police force since 2002. He was hired at UNI as a third shift police officer. After ten and a half years he got offered the detective position in investigations.
“You can’t come straight in here, you need experience on the street and I think ten and a half years actually was very beneficial for me,” Jaeger said.
Using his third shift experiences to enhance investigations, Jaeger had no problem adjusting to the duty differences.
“As a detective I work with the courts a lot. Let’s say for example your phone is involved in a crime, like a harassment. As a patrol officer you may seize that phone but you’re not going to get the search warrant to get in that phone, you’re not going to get the subpoenas from the carrier for it and you’re not going to take that cell phone over to Waterloo PD [Police Department] and have them do a download after you get an arrest or search warrant. So that’s what I do, a lot of the background,” Jaeger explained.
As a detective he also works with crime victims. On a university campus sexual assault and harassment crimes are common.
“When it comes to a sexual assault you don’t want to interview the victim for at least 24 hours or more afterwards because they’re going through trauma. So you let them think, then you bring them in with an advocate and have them sit there and talk and it’s an uncomfortable conversation but it has to be done. That is probably one part of this job that I don’t like, I mean I think I do alright on it but it’s just a tough situation,” Jaeger said.
Other background duties include pulling video clips, following up other cases, keeping evidence up-to-date and assisting other officers when they are involved in investigations.
“I stay busy. I just can’t not be doing something. I was like that on third shift, too,” Jaeger said.
Different from investigations, working as a third shift officer for quite some time has yielded Jaeger with many experiences. During 2008, he was involved in three different car pursuits within one month.
“We got into a pursuit going out on Hudson, and then all of the sudden he turned into a farm field and started going through there. And then all of the sudden he hit a ravine and rolled over,” Jaeger recalled one of the three pursuits from 2008.
That was when Jaeger had to do what was needed; he smashed the window and dragged the suspect from the vehicle.
“Had we not been right on top of him that night he would’ve probably died,” Jaeger remembered.
For Detective Jaeger, working successfully toward helping the public is what his job is all about.
“I arrested a girl one night for operating while intoxicated (OWI) and usually when you arrest them for an OWI they don’t say anything. But two weeks later at a football game she said thank you and I asked for what? She said for arresting me, because I was going down the wrong path. That made me just feel awesome. Those are the good things about this job,” Jaeger said.
Jaeger feels proud of what he does; and he’s not the only one.
“My kid is probably the driving force to make sure I do a good job, because he’s very proud. When I got moved to investigations he called it a promotion, it’s not a promotion but in his eyes it is. And he even wrote about it in school. And when he wrote about that in school that’s like, dang, I’m doing the right thing. Because my kid is very proud of what I do,” Jaeger said.
Detective Jaeger believes in working hard, succeeding and making a difference.
“I don’t know how to say it but I’m very compassionate about this job. Anything I can do to help people, I do my best,” Jaeger said.