A retirement party was held Friday, for a man whose voice has been heard from time-to-time by many in western Iowa, on KJAN and elsewhere, and whose service to the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department has spanned more than 30-years. Chief Deputy Jim Matthai officially turned in his badge, August 31st. Matthai, who worked with the FBI, U.S. Marshals, Iowa State Patrol, Council Bluffs and Omaha police departments, Douglas County, Nebraska, Sheriff’s Office and other agencies during his career, told the Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil, that “It’s been a great ride,” and that he’s “Been lucky.”
When he was hired by former Pott County Sheriff Lynn Ford in February of 1980, the 23-year old Matthai was assigned court security as a bailiff, protecting judges. He says that allowed him to work closely with the County Attorney’s Office, learn what they expect law enforcement, and how the legal system was handled by the courts.
One of the toughest jobs he’s had to handle, was being a traffic accident investigator from 1986 to 2001, especially those which involved serious injuries or death. He says he saw so many deaths, where if a seat belt would have been used, lives most likely would have been saved. During his career with the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Department, Matthai also worked in the sheriff’s office investigations unit, and on the SWAT team. He’s served on a bicycle patrol unit.
Matthai rose through the ranks in the sheriff’s department, until January 2001, when current Sheriff Jeff Danker promoted him to Chief Deputy. Danker credited Matthai for his work in making the Sheriff’s Office a progressive, professional agency. The Sheriff says he hates to see Matthai retire, and that he will be missed.
John Reynolds, a 24-year member of the Sheriff’s Office, will replace Matthai as Chief Deputy.