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Dickinson Police promote long-time investigator to detective sergeant

Travis Leintz has been promoted to detective sergeant for the Dickinson Police Department, which fills the vacant position previously held by Lt. Kylan Klauzer prior to his promotion earlier this summer.

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Detective Sgt. Travis Leintz stands in front of the blue flag inside the City of Dickinson Public Safety Center, after his promotion was celebrated in a special pinning ceremony Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, by his fellow officers and supervisors of the Dickinson Police Department. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Almost 17 years on the force, Travis Leintz will now serve as detective sergeant for the Dickinson Police Department, bringing his knowledge of expertise in the field of computer forensics and Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC).

During a special pinning ceremony Thursday, Dec. 16, Leintz was elevated amongst his peers in a celebration highlighted by camaraderie with fellow law enforcement officers representing DPD and the Stark County Sheriff’s Office. Following the summer promotion of Lt. Kylan Klauzer, the police department sought to fill the vacant position internally amongst its most talented officers.

Lt. Mike Hanel noted that each applicant for the position was “highly qualified in their own unique way,” and the opening received a limited number of possible candidates as a result of its “very specialized position.” The role of detective sergeant requires not only someone who can rise to the task of operating an investigative unit, but the person must possess an aptitude for investigative skills, administrative proficiency and a capacity to administer core leadership principles. After combing through the applicants, Leintz not only met the demands that the police department was looking for, he exceeded them.

“Travis has always had that initiative to want to improve stuff for the better, and the Backpack Program is one example that he came up with and it… received a lot of traction — it’s now a statewide program,” Hanel said, adding, the program is now called the Bravery Backpack Project 31:8. “So just being an innovator like that is something we really cherish as a leadership characteristic in our department.”

As the support of his family helped pin a pair of new collar rank insignia to his uniform, a hoorah from fellow police officers congratulated Leintz.

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“It’s a relief that I’m finally at this stage. But as stated, it’s not the end of my journey yet. So I have a lot of stuff I want to get done before I retire in hopefully 12 years,” he said, admitting his aspirations to become a lieutenant or captain one day. “But again, I just want to start with little steps here (with) getting this achievement and then building the rest of the division up.”

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Detective Sgt. Travis Leintz speaks on his promotion to his fellow officers and supervisors of the Dickinson Police Department Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

For Hanel, watching Leintz rise through the ranks has been rewarding considering that the two started nearly right around the same time.

“It’s a really great day for the department… Travis’ knowledge and compassion for the job (and) rising to the ranks of detective sergeant is going to serve our department and citizens very well,” Hanel said.

When Leintz first heard the news about his promotion, he was in shock, he said, adding that he was going up against two well-rounded, respected candidates.

“Success (and) greatness never comes from oneself. It always comes from others around me,” Leintz said. “I’ve had so much help like with Lt. Kylan Klauzer, who was my sergeant previously and who’s still my supervisor, but there’s a lot of mentoring there. With other administrators and people before me, I’ve been spoiled and I’ve had the privilege to see and learn. So now, I’m hoping to take what I’ve seen and learned and implement it with the skill set I have.”

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Deciding to go into law enforcement stems back to a third grade memory when Leintz was just a young lad. He recalled it was a coloring page with the words, “I want to be a policeman,” that inspired him long ago. Looking back on that memory, Leintz noted it was meant to be.

In 2005, when he was 26, Leintz began as a patrolman. At that time, the department was run by Police Chief Chuck Rummel, who Leintz said took a chance on him 16 years ago.

“... It's my second family up here. But the reward, especially the crimes against children, to know I potentially saved somebody from that environment…. That will never change, no matter where (I am) to the day I retire,” he said. “That's my true passion in helping kids that have been abused or abandoned or whatever the case may be or trafficked. So to help those guys and to see that I made that difference in their life is worth it. It’s weight in gold for me.”

After spending five years on patrol, he was reassigned to the Criminal Investigations Division in 2010.

When asked if he’d always been drawn to computer forensics, Leintz looked up with a chuckle and said, “No.”

“That’s the story of how I actually got back into investigations. Capt. (Joe) Cianni said, ‘Hey, we have a spot, but it’s going to come with the Internet Crimes Against Children. Are you interested?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes, no.’ Yes, to the investigations. No, I really don’t want to be exposed to a lot of child pornography and whatever things that come with it. But I was like, ‘Alright, I’ll try it.’ And it just became like second nature to me,” he recalled.

A year after he began with ICAC, the unit began introducing more digital forensics, to which Leintz only had basic knowledge of computers at that point.

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“That was my one regret and that’s what I tell people when I talk to them (about the importance of) computer science. Know computers because technology is driving our society and stay ahead of the 8-Ball,” he said. “I did not know it was going to lead me to where it has today, but it’s been a good thing.”

Over the years, Leintz has continued to thrive in each role he’s stepped up to, Hanel said. He was promoted to senior police detective in 2017 and then, to detective corporal in 2019 — which is the same year he became a special agent for the FBI to assist violent crimes against children.

“That’s been a very pivotal role for us here to combat that type of activity here, locally; and then even across the United States, he’s been intertwined in those types of investigations,” Hanel said. “So he has a breadth of knowledge of those sorts of investigations. But on top of that, he’s really well versed in the technological side of law enforcement with cellphone extractions (and) computer forensics. And now, in a position of leadership, he’s going to be fostering the next generation of detectives that are coming through our ranks.”

ICAC investigators are exposed to graphic material that should not be seen by people, Leintz noted, explaining that it can be difficult especially for law enforcement personnel who have children. To cope with those emotions, investigators have resources for vicarious trauma and a good support system in place.

Now, at 43, Leintz said he’s excited to get started and hopes to enhance technology at the police department, including the goal of starting a cyber crimes unit.

“I enjoy what I do, and I can’t see myself doing anything else because I’ve often thought to myself, ‘If I quit, where would I ever go? What would I do?’ Especially when I got into the (Internet) Crimes Against Children and I know it’s kind of a selfish thing to think, but if I don’t do it, who will?” he remarked. “If somebody is not doing it, that child could be either exploited or sexually abused or abused even more… It’s my true passion… They put me there and it’s probably one of my proudest aspirations that I’ve achieved outside of this.”

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Dickinson Police Capt. Joe Cianni, right, says a few words about Detective Sgt. Travis Leintz before congratulating him in his new role during a special pinning ceremony Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

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