Garnavillo Police Chief is eager to serve

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Law enforcement professional Eric Van Horn looks forward to meeting and serving Garnavillo residents as the new Chief of Police, and invites community members to attend "Coffee with a Cop" at Thoma's Cafe on Thursday, March 21, from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

From a very young age, newly hired Garnavillo Chief of Police Eric Van Horn had a passion for law enforcement. He was born and raised in West Union and graduated from North Fayette High School in 2011.

"Two of my uncles served in law enforcement; one as a Buchanan County Deputy and the other as a Cook County (Illinois) Deputy," he began. "The first time I ever saw the old Crown Vic sitting in my uncle's driveway and he let me wear his police hat, I was hooked."

Setting goals and working hard

Working towards a future in law enforcement, Van Horn participated in an internship with the West Union Police Department during his last two years of high school, and went straight to work at the jail in Fayette County as soon as he graduated. 

Van Horn went on to earn a degree in Criminology from Upper Iowa University, Fayette. "My career path saw me working multiple part-time police positions at once as I waited for an opportunity to pop up somewhere to work full-time," he explained. "The running joke was that my badge number was '22-Eric', as I worked simultaneously as a reserve officer for the West Union, Fayette, Mar-Mac, Monona, Guttenberg, Waukon, and Elkader Police Departments; often working two shifts per day. I was also hired as a reserve deputy and eventually a full-time jailer/dispatcher with the Clayton County Sheriff's Office."

A full-time position eventually opened up with the Elkader Police Department, and Van Horn furthered his education by attending the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Waterloo, graduating in 2018. 

In January of 2019, an opportunity to obtain additional experience with a much larger department presented itself and Van Horn took advantage of the opening and was hired by the Cedar Falls Police Department. "After working in Cedar Falls for a few years, I realized I missed the small-town atmosphere, and was lucky enough to be hired by the Clayton County Sheriff's Office for a vacancy created by the retirement of Deputy Tim Engelhardt in 2021. I was thrilled to be back 'home' working as a full time deputy," he said with gratitude. 

Garnavillo Chief of Police

Van Horn is excited to serve the citizens of Garnavillo as the next Chief of Police, and hopes to build a relationship with its residents so they feel at ease and can approach him with any issues they may have, and feel comfortable enough to say "Hello" while he is out and about. 

"I think it is very important for towns like Garnavillo to keep their own police departments, as I am a firm believer that the more sets of eyes you have watching over the community, the better," Van Horn told The Press.  "I am very fortunate that I inherited a police department that had been run and equipped very well by the previous Chief, and was pleased to see that most things I had planned on doing for the department had already been done by my predecessor."

Van Horn is also thankful for fellow officer Ken Hoeger, and for the positive working relationship that the Clayton County Sheriff's Office has maintained with Clayton County communities, including Garnavillo. "It is important for us all to work together to best serve Garnavillo residents, and the Sheriff's Office has always done a great job of taking care of the citizens in town when Ken and I are not around," he commented.

"Coffee with a Cop"

The Chief of Police invites community members to attend "Coffee with a Cop" at Thoma's Cafe on Thursday, March 21, from 7 a.m. - 9 a.m. "I was trying to decide how best to meet everyone, and finally landed on the idea of 'Coffee with a Cop'," he explained. "I hope to continue this periodically in the future, with dates being announced every once in a while in the Guttenberg Press and the City of Garnavillo's Facebook page.  I look forward to meeting everyone, and serving you all as Garnavillo's Chief of Police."

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