Records Reveal Little About North Liberty Police Chief Resignation
By Hayley Bruce, Reporter
NORTH LIBERTY, Iowa - Three weeks after former North Liberty police Chief Jim Warkentin resigned, records of email communication between city employees and Warkentin reveal little new information surrounding his decision to leave the department.
Records show that City Administrator Ryan Heiar contacted acting police chief Diane Venenga on Feb. 4 just before 9 a.m. to inform her that Warkentin was "no longer an employee of the city of North Liberty" and that she would be named acting police chief. The email also said Heiar would be in touch soon to follow up and discuss expectations.
North Liberty City Attorney Scott Peterson also contacted Terry Abernathy, an attorney who has represented North Liberty in the past, to inform him of the staffing changes.
Records also break down the $37,647.56 lump sum Warkentin received as part of his resignation agreement, showing he was paid $1,799.20 through February 1, 2013, received $7,639.68 in paid leave, and was offered $28,208.58 as part of a severance package.
Remaining documents from the request contain reporter's requests for comment and records, as well as a few interdepartmental emails about the staffing change, and changing entry codes into the waste water plant.
The records come three weeks after the city and Warkentin released a joint statement regarding his departure, citing personal reasons for Warkentin's resignation which was effective Feb. 1, 2013. The city council approved Warkentin's resignation agreement — which includes the $37,647 lump sum and extend his benefits through March 31 — at their Feb. 12 meeting. The agreement also contains a clause that keeps the terms of his employment confidential, and prevents him from filing any legal claims against the city regarding his employment.
In the release, which serves as the only public comment Warkentin has made regarding his resignation, the former chief speaks highly of the community.
“I want to thank the community for its support throughout the years, and I want to thank the City and the staff with whom I have had the pleasure to work," Warkentin said in the release, which also included a statement from the city council, thanking him for his service.
Warkentin was hired as the department's first police officer in Aug. 9, 1999. His most recent salary was $86,361,60.
The city’s website names Diane Venenga, who has also been with the department since 1999, as the acting police chief and Heiar said the city hopes to begin the process to fill the position of police chief by the end of this month.
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