In a large room brimming with family and friends, five people were sworn in and seven received promotions at the Polk County Sheriff's Office headquarters Friday.
"It's a very proud moment for me," Polk County Sheriff Kevin Schneider said at the ceremony. "When we built this building, we didn't think we'd be able to fill this room — it's huge."
After the five new sheriff's office members raised their hands and took the oath, Schneider offered words of wisdom, reminding them that their actions on the job affect both the department and the residents of Polk County.
"This badge comes with a shine," Schneider said. "The only way to tarnish it is through your actions."
Among the seven people promoted to the ranks of chief, major, captain, sergeant, detective and support services supervisor, one promotion, in particular, marked a historic moment for the Polk County Sheriff's Office.
Cory Williams was promoted to chief administrator of the Polk County Jail, the first civilian to ever hold the position.
"It means everything to me," Williams said. "My family has been super supportive throughout my career, which is important. I've had the pleasure to work for the sheriff my entire career in the command staff. So it's a great feeling to know that they believe and have faith in my abilities to do what I believe I can do for our office."
At 19 years old, Williams wanted to be a sheriff's deputy, but knew he needed to be 21 to apply. In the interim, he got a job at the jail — where he fell in love with the work and has stayed for the past 21 years.
He has held various roles in the jail throughout the years, from working in housing units and booking to being part of the transition team that designed the new jail facility, which opened in 2008.
"I started working at the jail and I really loved it, I really liked the people and the environment," Williams said. "When I got here, I realized that this was a better fit for me. And it worked for my family life on top of it. So I made a decision early in my career that this was going to be my career path and then went from there."
Unless a big opportunity arises in the future, Williams said he plans on staying in the chief administrator position until retirement, carrying on the work he's done in the jail for the past two decades.
"He's climbed through the ranks and made it all the way to this level, so it's a really unique situation," Lt. Ryan Evans of the Polk County Sheriff's Office said. "I mean, to reach the top administrative level of the jail is really special for us, because we've never had anybody in that position that's not a sworn member."
According to Evans, the promotions ceremony is an important part of recognizing individuals' work within the sheriff's office and giving their families the chance to see that recognition.
"We think that we have the best staff in the country, and we'd like to be able to show them how much we appreciate them and challenge them with new things by promoting them," Evans said. "I know that's what the sheriff is all about."
Grace Altenhofen is a news reporter for the Des Moines Register. She can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @gracealtenhofen.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Polk County Sheriff's offices swears in new officers, promotes others