“Oaths of office — they’re no small thing. They are considered solemn promises. Solemn promises, what does that mean? … A solemn promise really is that you’re willing to do this job when nobody’s watching and it could include giving your life. That’s what solemn promises are all about. These oaths are no different,” City Administrator Brian Winningham said to two new police officers during Tuesday’s swearing in ceremony.

The Dickinson Police Department received a couple of personnel changes this week with the promotion of a corporal to swearing in two new officers — Abigail Johnson and Jacob Kittleson — for its patrol unit during the Tuesday, Aug. 17, Dickinson City Commission meeting at City Hall.

Dickinson Police Sgt. Mike Hanson was promoted Monday during a special pinning ceremony at the City of Dickinson Public Safety Center. Eager to step up to the plate, Hanson remarked that he is proud to continue serving the City of Dickinson.

“It feels good. It’s not a lot different (from) my position as a police corporal here. But there’s definitely some new things that are going on,” Hanson said. “I’m excited about it. I get to be in charge of running an entire shift.”

His new role as sergeant is being that “front-line supervisor” and managing all other officers outside of administrative hours, Lt. Mike Hanel said.

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“Besides the daily tasks of report reviewing, event coordination and critical incident control, they are also tasked with mentoring and advocating for the officers under their command,” Hanel said. “It can be a taxing workload, but our sergeants here know the importance of their role and work hard to prepare the next generation of Dickinson officers. Hanson will undoubtedly step up to the challenge as well and excel in his position.”

Dickinson Police Sgt. Mike Hanson is pictured. Hanson was recently promoted to his new role of sergeant after serving eight years with the police department. (Contributed / Dickinson Police Department)
Dickinson Police Sgt. Mike Hanson is pictured. Hanson was recently promoted to his new role of sergeant after serving eight years with the police department. (Contributed / Dickinson Police Department)

The Dickinson native graduated from Trinity High School and enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving with the 82nd Airborne from 2005 to 2010 with deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“We have several military veterans and current service members serving with the police department. The experience they obtain in the service transitions very well to civilian law enforcement. We know they have been tested on their decision making and they can exhibit cool under pressure,” Hanel noted.

Hanson then attended the University of Mary, where he received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

Hanson was then hired on by DPD in June 2013. From there, Hanson worked his way up the ladder, with his promotion to senior patrol officer in July 2017 to corporal in October 2018.

“Hanson has shown us that he is a level-headed leader,” Hanel said, adding, “He has a quiet confidence that has earned him a strong respect amongst his fellow officers and the public. The city is in good hands when he is on duty.”

City Administrator Brian Winningham, left, swears in Dickinson Police Officer Jacob Kittleson as Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger looks on during the Dickinson City Commission meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at City Hall. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)
City Administrator Brian Winningham, left, swears in Dickinson Police Officer Jacob Kittleson as Dickinson Police Chief Dustin Dassinger looks on during the Dickinson City Commission meeting Tuesday, Aug. 17, 2021, at City Hall. (Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press)

Hopeful police staffing with two new recruits

Johnson, 22, grew up in Alaska before moving to South Dakota and finishing the rest of her high schooling. She then enrolled at the North Dakota State School of Science in Wahpeton and then transferred to Dickinson State University, earning a bachelor’s of composite social science with a criminal justice track. She also did an internship with DPD prior to her hire as an officer.

When asked why she decided to become a cop, the answer was simple for Johnson.

“The main thing for me was helping people. I have always been a person that helps people (even) at their lowest,” Johnson said. “That’s the number one goal for me is to be there when it’s hard for people and support them even if nobody else is supporting them.”

Californian born and raised, 23-year-old Kittleson received his bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in criminal justice administration at California State University - Dominguez Hills. With the two new hires, the department expects for a hopeful future moving forward.

“Despite the downward trend in the number of applications we receive, our department is still fortunate enough to get ‘diamonds in the rough’ like these two officers. We continue to maintain a high expectation of character during our backgrounding process, so for these two to make it through that process, it speaks highly of the kind of person they are,” Hanel said. “We believe in maintaining a department culture that fosters integrity and community involvement, and from what we’ve seen so far from these two officers, they will fit right in.”

DPD is currently running its background phase on three more recruits. If all of the candidates pass that process, it will be the first time in several years that the department is at full staff, Hanel added. Following the city’s 2022 budget, the department is hoping to hire four additional officers in January to accommodate peak hours using a “power shift” model.