Kammerlohr one of 4 female police chiefs in Missouri

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cassville police chief began her career to help kids stay off drugs

Cassville Police Chief Dana Kammerlohr is not intimidated by working in a male-dominated field, as she is one of only four female police chiefs in Missouri, according to records kept by the Missouri Police Chief Association. The other three female police chiefs in the state work in Mexico, Camdenton and Wentzville.

"It's not really about gender, but about your capability to do what is expected of you," Kammerlohr said. "We have the same challenges whether male or female. I may have a different approach than a male, but the outcome is the same."

Kammerlohr began her career working as a veterinarian technician. Upon hearing about animal search and rescue, she started training her own Australian shepherd. With a passion for animals and protecting children, she became a member of the Missouri Search and Rescue team. This sparked an interest in working in law enforcement.

She went to the Missouri Southern State College Police Academy in Joplin and joined the force as a reserve, helping whenever there was a search and doing occasional patrols.

Kammerlohr recalls one event where she and the other officers entered a house and saw a baby laying on a bed surrounded by needles, which tested positive for methamphetamine and marijuana.

"The sight broke our hearts, and we needed a program for kids to realize this was not normal."

Working with the police chief at the time, they founded the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, which teaches students skills to avoid involvement in drugs, gangs and violence.

Kammerlohr realized she needed to become a full-time officer to take on this position; however, the county lacked the funds to hire at the time. She began doing research for waivers and grants to get the money.

"I used to be shy," she said. "This was unusual behavior for me."

Through her research, someone suggested that she ask the governor to request funding. Kammerlohr said she happened to be having dinner with the governor that night, and would do just that.

Former Gov. Mel Carnahan was in town for a benefit, and when Kammerlohr had a chance to speak with him, she asked for the funding. The governor turned to his aid and told her to get them some money, which funded Kammerlohr the first year working as a D.A.R.E. officer, until they could get grants from the State and eventually the county could afford to hire her full time.

"I got into law for the kids who were being raised around drugs," Kammerlohr said. "If it makes a difference to one, it's worth it."

Kammerlohr enjoys her new role, but misses working with the schools. She also continues her work with the canine unit, and is training a new dog to join the force.

"The more education you have, the better you will be in any field," she said. "It's a stepping stone to get to a leadership position. You have to be open-minded to different opinions, and make the best decision for the department and the city of Cassville."

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