New Muscatine County sheriff focused on future

Quinn Riess enters fifth month in position


Quinn Riess had one goal in mind when he joined the Muscatine County police department in January 1999.

When asked in his interview by then sheriff Lowell Snyder about where he saw himself in the future, Riess’ response was politely laughed and joked about. More than two decades later, Riess has now made good on his personal goal.

“It’s always been my goal,” Riess said. “As I worked my way up the ranks, I realized this was a real possibility.”

Quinn Riess started as Sheriff of Muscatine County on Jan. 1, 2021 after the election to replace the retiring sheriff C.J. Ryan. Riess heads up the sheriff’s office that is in charge of the jail, civil, investigation and patrol divisions. Although still new on the job, Riess wants to learn as much as possible for as long as possible.

“Being in charge of the jail was a huge learning curve and still is,” Riess said. “I learn new things about this place every day and I hope that never ends.”

The new position Riess is in was part of a string of new positions made available by staff retirements. Along with Riess, former chief deputy Ardyth Slight was replaced by Jeff Mullen, who previously served as patrol captain. Taking Mullen’s place as patrol captain was Mike Schmidt, former afternoon patrol sergeant.

Riess is sheriff of the 13th largest county in Iowa at 450,000 square miles and is in charge of the seventh largest jail facility in the state, with 255 permanent and 10 temporary beds. The sheriff’s office is currently under construction for a $1.7 million expansion off the southern end of the current building. The new addition will add 30-40 new cells, an improved break room and a weight room for staff members and officers.

Jail administrator and captain Mathew McCleary remembers life when both he and Riess were new faces in the police department, as McCleary started in September 1999. Although they started in different roles and didn’t see each other as often as they do now, captain McCleary has still seen Riess grow in the field of law enforcement.

“We’ve matured together,” McCleary said. “He definitely pushes me a little bit harder. We’re both really competitive and I just try and keep up with him.”

According to his co-workers, Riess puts in time early in the morning and late at night while also coming in on the weekends. Sheriff Riess is currently looking at policy changes, improving training programs and recruitment as per the national standards. Also on the agenda is adding a second K-9 unit in the patrol division and hiring two new patrol deputies in July, which would make the office fully-staffed. Given the changes in the making, Riess strives to get to know who he is working with in his office.

“He’s really made an effort to speak with all different employees,” captain McCleary said. “Whether that be in the corrections office, the receptionists, jail administrators or even the people in food service.”

If you wonder why Riess is as active as he is with his new position, you should understand his attitude he has for his job.

“I love what I do,” Riess said. “It’s hard to call it work or a job when you love coming in in the mornings.”

Riess has over 24 years of law enforcement experience. He started at the Marengo Police Department in Marengo, Iowa in 1996. After coming to Muscatine, he became a deputy assigned to the courthouse. After 9 months, he was promoted to corporal in a road position. He was a K-9 handler from 2001 to 2010. In 2011, he was promoted to sergeant of the afternoon shift and midnights. He soon moved to the criminal investigation division, where in his tenure he was promoted from lieutenant to captain, until he was elected sheriff.