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FOR st. joseph county sheriff 2024
Biography of
Dennis Allen

Time for a Change

I was born on August 14th, 1955 in LaPorte, Indiana to Cleatis and Marie Allen.

In 1967 I moved to Centreville with my mother and began 5th grade.  I have since lived in and called St. Joseph County my home for the past 55 years.  I graduated from Centreville High School in 1973.  While in high school I belonged to the “Varsity “C” club and was an athlete that participated and excelled in football, basketball and baseball. I received 1st Team All-League in football three years, 1st Team All League in baseball three years, as well as being named the league’s MVP twice. I also received 2nd Team All-League in basketball two years. I was fortunate enough to play on league champion teams, both in basketball and baseball, as well as win two District titles in basketball. I also was inducted into the 1st inaugural Centreville High School Athletic Hall of Fame class.

After graduating from high school, I attended Adrian College for one year, where I played basketball.  I then returned to Centreville and went my 2nd year of college at Glen Oaks Community College, while working weekends as a dispatcher and Corrections Officer for the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department. It was also during this time that I began dating Vicki L. Lahrke (Allen) of Centreville.  

After completing my 2nd year of college, I decided that I wanted to serve my country and see the world, so in July of 1975 I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. I went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, California for basic training.  While in boot camp I was appointed the Platoon Guide and later was selected the “Platoon Honorman” for demonstrating great leadership skills and excelling above and beyond the call of duty.  For this honor I received a meritorious promotion to Private First Class (PFC) and was awarded a complete set of a Marine Corps Dress Blues uniform.  

From San Diego I received my orders to report to Ft. McClellan, Alabama to begin my Military Police training.  While home on leave from boot camp I asked Ms. Lahrke to marry me and we set a wedding date of February 14th, 1976.  I then reported to Ft. McClellan in October of 1975 and completed my Military Police training in early December of 1975.  

From there I received my orders to report to Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, North Carolina.  I reported there in the middle of December and began my duties as a Military Policeman.  Once at my duty station, Cherry Point, I requested leave for February so that I could go home and get married.  However, my Sgt Major quickly told me that I had not been there long enough to request leave and if the Marine Corps would have wanted me to have a wife the Corps would have issued me one.  

I quickly got on the phone and told my fiancé that if she wanted to get married, she would have to fly down there and we could get married.  Her family drove down and she flew down and Ms. Vicki L. Lahrke became Mrs. Dennis J. Allen on February 7th, 1976.  We have now been happily married for 48 years.  

After being at Cherry Point, N.C. for 9 months I received orders to Iwakuni, Japan.  I was stationed there from December 1976 to January 1978. While there I was promoted to Corporal by time in grade.  My wife came over and spent 6 months with me. She then returned home and I completed the remaining 4 months without her.  

After returning to the states, I was ordered to report to Quantico, Virginia.  I reported there in January of 1978 and our first son, Curtis, was born there.  I worked as a Military Policeman during this time and received my 2nd meritorious promotion, which was to the rank of Sergeant (E-5). 

In August of 1978 I volunteered for a (3) three year accompanied tour to Camp H.M. Smith, Hawaii.  I arrived in Hawaii in October of 1978 and became a platoon leader of one of the Military Police platoons on the base.  After being there one year my wife and I had our twin sons, Nicholas and Lucas. They were born in September of 1979.  It was about this time that I tested for and was selected to move into the Criminal Investigation Division.  When that happened, I immediately enrolled at Chaminade University of Honolulu so that I could complete my college degree. I graduated from Chaminade University on December 21st, 1980 with a Bachelors Degree and a GPA of 3.75. I majored in History and minored in Criminal Justice.

In July of 1981 my wife and I decided that we wanted our sons to grow up and be around their grandparents and family, so in September of 1981, I was “Honorably” discharged from the Marine Corps after serving 6 years and 2 months on active duty. 

We then returned home to the Three Rivers area, at which time I enrolled in the Kalamazoo Valley Police Academy. While in the academy I was awarded the “Top Shooter” and “Most Physically Fit” awards for the class and finished in the top third of my class in grades.  I graduated from the Kalamazoo Valley Academy on December 18th, 1981.


St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department

I began employment with the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department as a Corrections Officer on November 2nd, 1982.  My wife had been working at Three Rivers Manor and then later gained employment at the Three Rivers Church of the Nazarene.  Our kids during this time were attending Three Rivers public schools.

In 1986, I was promoted to the Road Patrol Division where I remained until I was appointed Undersheriff on January 1st, 1989 by incoming Sheriff Matt Lori. In 1990 my wife was hired at the St. Joseph County Courthouse, where she worked 28 years before retiring in 2018.  In 1995 we sold our house in Three Rivers and built a new house in Centreville, where we still reside.  Our sons have since graduated from Centreville High School and Western Michigan University and have pursued various careers.  Luke and Curtis, both have served in the Marine Corps and have seen (1) one tour each in the Iraq war.  

I served as the Undersheriff for 20 years, from 1989 to 2008.  I was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Sheriff’s Department, which includes, but is not limited to, overseeing and assisting in the preparing of the yearly budget, scheduling, shift bids, assigning vacation, discipline, hiring, termination, making sure that all necessary equipment that is needed is available and in operable condition.  In addition to that I was involved in numerous contract negotiations involving the county and the Sheriff’s Department employee’s union.



Leadership and Management

In addition to that I was also responsible for the leadership and management of personnel that belong to the following sections, divisions, and bureaus:

1. Road Patrol Division
2. Detective Bureau
3. Corrections Division
4. Multi-jurisdictional Major Crimes Task Force
5. Multi-jurisdictional Special Response Team6. Reserve Division
6. S.C.A.N. St. Joseph County Area Narcotics Team
7. Reserve Division
8. Marine Patrol
8. Clerical Staff

Other department head positions I held, while serving as the Undersheriff.

1. Interim Director of the St. Joseph County Central Dispatch
2. Interim Director of the St. Joseph County Parks and Recreation
3. Interim Chief of Police for Constantine Police Department

Schools that I have attended while the Undersheriff:

1. Undersheriff School
2. Discipline and Discharge
3. Upper Management Leadership and Development
4. Surveillance School
5. Firearms Instructor School
6. Labor Relations
7. School on Weingarten and Garrity

After retiring from the Sheriff’s Department in November of 2008, I took a year and a half off and then went back to work in May of 2010 as a Supervisor and eventually Plant Manager of Cobalt Holding LLC in Sturgis, MI.  I retired from there in December of 2022.  

While working for Cobalt I was elected and served (3) three years on the Centreville Village Council as an At Large Council Member and head of the Law Enforcement Committee.  

In 2016 I ran for the St. Joseph County Board of Commissioners and was elected to a (2) two-year term.  I have since been re-elected (3) three times and I am in my 7th year as a County Commissioner, and presently the longest serving Commissioner on the Board.  Of the (7) seven years I have served I was elected by my fellow Commissioners served as the Chairman of the Board for (4) four consecutive years.


Hobbies and other interest:

I enjoy golf, basketball, football, coaching and playing with my grandkids.

I coached Varsity and Junior Varsity football at Centreville High School for nearly 20 years, beginning in 1990.  I coached Freshman, Junior Varsity and Varsity Basketball during that same time period, also for nearly 20 years.  I also umpired girl’s high school softball and boy’s high school baseball. 

I am very passionate about the Sheriff’s Department and that passion stems clear back to my childhood. My 1st Office in the Sheriff’s Department was the bedroom that I slept in as a kid after being taken in by then Sheriff Neubert Balk. 

Nothing would mean more to me than to restore the St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Department to one of the finest Sheriff’s Department in Michigan. Something the residents of this county can be very proud of.  After all it is the people’s Sheriff Department and the great residents of this county deserve that.  


Working Harder for You


Dennis Allen for Sheriff 2024

Pledge your Support today!!

Cell Number: 269-506-6845