Real Talk w/CJ: Lt. Dan Norris, Montgomery County Sheriff's Office

Tue Mar 5, 2013
2:00 pm - 3:00pm
Hazel B. Kerper Courtroom

After nearly 27 years with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Lt. Dan Norris has risen through the ranks of the fifth largest sheriff’s agency in Texas, serving in patrol, as a detective, in Internal Affairs and in administration.

Lt. Dan Norris serves in the administration office of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.
Lt. Dan Norris serves in the administrative office of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office.

Norris began his career with the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office in 1984 as a volunteer reserve deputy, officially joining the department in 1986, patrolling East Montgomery County, the toughest area in the county. “I learned a lot real fast,” he said.

Newspaper photo of a young Det. Norris talking on a radio.
Lt. Norris speaks to detectives under his command during a missing child investigation.
Since then he served as a detective in the burglary and theft division as well as in major crimes, where he has been involved in the investigation of about 150 murders and thousands of other cases. In 1994, his career took its first pivotal turn when he accepted the job of Sergeant in charge of the Internal Affairs Division. In that job, he discovered he wanted to pursue a career in managing and supervising.

“Internal Affairs can be a police officer’s best friend. We meticulously investigated each case and those gave me an enhanced understanding of the complicated nature of the operation of the criminal justice system,” said Lt. Norris.

The Internal Affairs Office gave Norris insight on how police agencies internally operate and the complex nature of managing a police organization. A year later, Norris was promoted to Lieutenant and headed up the Criminal Investigations Division.

Lt. Norris holds a press conference for the media.
Lt. Norris holds a press conference for the media.
In 2004, Norris was tasked by Sheriff Tommy Gage for the administration office, where he reports directly to the Sheriff and his Chief Deputy Randy McDaniel on public information requests, budgets, grants, policies, fleet accident reviews, and recruiting. As a public information officer, he interacts with the media to keep the community informed about major crimes and Sheriff Office initiatives. He said it is important to develop an ongoing relationship with the press to help bridge better relations with the public.

“I make sure that the goals of the Sheriff’s Office and community policing efforts are conveyed to the community, after all public relations is one of the pillars that make the community policing and problem solving philosophies work,” said Lt. Norris. “You can’t alienate the media. The media will not go away and it is important to develop a relationship with them to help keep the public better informed. “

During his eight year tenure in administration, Norris helped bring in and manage about $3.7 million in grants, equipping every patrol car in the department with in-car video recorders as well as providing body armor and Tasers for the entire department, guns for the SWAT team and overtime special projects for deputies, such as targeted drunk driving, selective traffic enforcement of speeders and even reviving cold homicide cases. He also revamped recruiting procedures to streamline hiring practices and redesigned, reviewed and updated the department’s policy manual. He also chairs the Fleet Accident Review Committee, which reviews every accident involving Sheriff Office vehicles and recommends disciplinary action when necessary.

Lt. Norris served as president of the Leadership Command College Association.
Lt. Norris served as president of the Leadership Command College Association.
During his time at the Sheriff’s Office, Norris participated in the Leadership Command College (LCC) at the Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas and the FBI National Academy in Quantico, VA, two more pivotal junctures in his career. “These were an extension of the things I had seen and learned in Internal Affairs,” Lt. Norris said.

Lt. Norris encouraged other officers interested in supervision and management to go to the LCC, which is held at three universities include Sam Houston State. He called it “the best program in the U.S.” He said the program provided a wealth of information to not only to understand management in law enforcement, but to better understand yourself as a supervisor and leader. It also gave him the opportunity to travel to Poland and Mexico to get a broader prospective on the criminal justice system and its globalization affects for the citizens he serves. Norris even served as the LCC Alumni Association president and served on its board of directors for many years. He still maintains a close connection with the LEMIT staff and hosts various international police groups that come to SHSU when they tour the Sheriff’s Office.
Lt. Dan Norris poses with the Polish SWAT team.
Lt. Dan Norris poses with a SWAT Team.
Norris said he is a strong proponent of education to help police officers excel.

“I think it’s important to young people who want to go into law enforcement to have a college education,” said Lt. Norris. “It provides a strong foundation. To advance in law enforcement, you have to continue learning and training in the areas you want to excel. It allows you to learn the concepts and how and why to apply them.”

Although not planning to retire from the Sheriff’s Office anytime soon, Norris would like to head up a police department and teach.

“I enjoy going to work every day, I like where I work and who I work with and there are always challenges in the criminal justice business.”

Member of The Texas State University System