SHERIDAN — A staple officer of the Sheridan Police Department has retired. SPD Lt. Chris Dahmke left the department at age 46 after serving the city of Sheridan for more than 20 years.
Dahmke grew up in Douglas. After graduating from college, he briefly worked at Disney Land and later drove a forklift for the 3M tape company in California before moving back to Wyoming and winning a spot at the SPD beating out more than 100 applicants.
His first day on the job was Dec. 28, 1992.
“I rememberer that when I started that the first few years went by really fast,” he remembered. “There were five new guys — we were all pretty young — and the department, I don’t want to say was old, but they were aging a bit, and when we came in, I think we kind of added a little juice to the whole thing.”
“We would fight to get out the door to run to calls. I remember several times when we would run into each other going out the doorway trying to be the first one out to their car to get to a call. Even if it was a minor call, it was a big deal.”
Dahmke was the only one of those five rookies that stayed on for the long haul.
During his tenure in law enforcement, he rotated through various jobs—he worked as a patrol officer, an investigator and a sergeant before attaining his final rank as police lieutenant.
Along with differing billet descriptions, Dahmke also worked within novel community projects and served on the Special Response Team and often served as a media spokesperson for the department.
“I like the changing aspect of it. You go into work every day and you’re not really sure what to expect. You’re not behind a desk all the time — at least not until later in your career,” he said. “It’s dynamic.”
Dahmke said police work is unique from a lot of other jobs in that it changes a person over time.
“I think it kind of mellows you a little bit. You see a lot of really bad things on the job, to be honest with you, but you see a lot of good things as well,” he said. “I guess it steers you more toward that even keel perspective on things where you don’t get too excited or too uptight.”
While the initial excitement of the job fades over time, Dahmke said it was replaced with a quiet satisfaction that comes from maintaining safety and quality of life in the community.
“You love the job at the end, too, but for different reasons,” Dahmke said. “The core is it’s a job where you can really do a lot of good and you can see the outcomes of what you do immediately.
“You will make an effect in people’s lives, whether it’s negative or positive,” he said. “Sometimes when (people are) living destructive lives, there needs to be something in there that makes them stop and change that behavior.”
Dahmke said that his departure isn’t with sentiment, but he’s confident passing the reigns to a new generation.
“Sheridan is in good hands,” he said, noting the SPD boasts some of the most advanced technology in the region and a well educated police force.
Dahmke said he plans to remain in Sheridan, where he raised two children, and will likely undertake a second career.