by J.O. Parker
Following in the footsteps of his father and uncle, both who were police officers, retiring Grinnell Chief Police Dennis Reilly enjoyed a 33-year career in law enforcement.
“I always looked up to my father and believed that law enforcement was a noble profession,” noted Chief Reilly. “While my father preferred that I pursue a career in federal law enforcement, I wanted to work within our community like he did.”
Chief Reilly began his law enforcement career as a patrolman with the Morris Township, N.J. Police Department in August 1987.
During his career in Morris Township, Chief Reilly was promoted to the rank of sergeant in 1995, lieutenant in 2000 (patrol and investigations), and captain (operations and support services divisions) in 2007. In January 2011, he was appointed Chief of Police.
In addition, Chief Reilly has instructed in a number of law enforcement areas, including constitutional law, firearms, first aid, and RADAR operation. He has also served as a field training officer and officer in charge of detectives.
He holds a BA in Management Sciences from St. Bonaventure University and an MA in Education from Seton Hall University. He is a graduate of the 241st session of the FBI National Academy, as well as a graduate from the instructor for the New Jersey State Association of Chiefs of Police Command and Leadership Academy.
“My career has caused me to work nights, weekends, holidays, experience late night calls, witness too many tragic events and miss many a family function,” he said.
When asked what brought him to Iowa, Chief Reilly said he wife was born and raised in Ames and the couple wished to make their way back to the Hawkeye state.
After learning about Grinnell Chief of Police position in an advertisement on the International Association of Chiefs website, Chief Reilly said he reached out to a friend of his who attended the FBI National Academy in 2010 (Chief Rob Johansen – Urbandale Police Department).
“He suggested that Grinnell was a nice city and the police department had a good reputation in Iowa law enforcement.”
He served with the Grinnell Police Department since June 2012. His last day as chief is Dec. 31, 2020.
When asked for some of his accomplishments in law enforcement, Chief Reilly said he’s not looking for the spotlight, but that serving for more than 33 years and making life better for others is his biggest accomplishment.
“My career has given me a front row seat to witness acts and events that will unfortunately never leave me,” said Chief Reilly. “More importantly, though, it has provided me with many opportunities to help others and this is why I wanted to be a police officer. I experienced all of this while serving two magnificent communities, beside dedicated professionals.”
Chief Reilly said in January, that he told his wife that it was time to take on something new and that he planned to conclude his career in December.
“It was time for me to spend quality time with my family, not connected to a phone or email 24/7,” he said.
Chief Reilly informed staff in February, at the department’s annual meeting, that this would be his last year. In April, he provided his official notice to the city, wanting to provide them with adequate notice to find his replacement.”
As for retirement, Chief Reilly said he plans to take a deep breath, relax and spend some true quality time with his wife and not have to worry about one of his officers being seriously injured, or a tragic event happening to one of his community members.
“I look forward to the opportunities ahead me, whatever they may be,” he said.
He added that it has been a true honor to serve the Grinnell community.
“This has become home for my wife and I, with us making many life-long friends,” he said. “I will miss serving Grinnell, and serving beside a dedicated group of professionals at Grinnell Police Department.”