Neighborhood Leaders Keep Close Eye on Police Chief Search
By Jill Kasparie, Reporter
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – Neighborhood Association Leaders are keeping a close eye on the police chief search.
“That’s a big thing for us. We work very closely with the police department,” Wellington Heights Neighborhood President Terry Bilsland said.
Bilsland said he wants the city to pick someone who is easy to communicate with. He regularly talked to former Police Chief Greg Graham. Association presidents work one on one with the chief to discuss problems in their neighborhoods.
"I think a lot of things we are doing today is working. And I think they need to find somebody who can work with community policing and the broken windows theory that you have to take care of what's happening at the time so that it doesn't escalate,” Bilsland said.
Lincolnway Village Neighborhood President Sandy Bell agrees the new chief should support community policing efforts. She said her neighborhood has struggled with students and partying because of their location with Kirkwood Community College. Now, however, she said crime was down.
“Neighborhood policing works much like neighborhood self-policing. If you know the people in your neighborhood, you’ll have a safe neighborhood. If you know the police who are patrolling your neighborhood, you’ll have a safe neighborhood,” Bell said.
The police department said the new chief will likely continue with community policing policies.
“We’ve got great rapport with the neighborhood associations, great rapport with our churches, great rapport with the schools and I don’t know how we cannot keep the momentum going. Whoever the new chief will be, I guess my advice would be to hang on because the train is already moving forward and the new chief is going to have to jump on as we move along,” Cedar Rapids Police Department’s Cristy Hamblin said.
The Cedar Rapids Civil Service Commission will interview each candidate by video conference on Thursday. The candidates are from as far away as North Carolina and Arizona. Several are already police chiefs, while others have different positions within law enforcement. Steve O'Konek is one of three who are currently sharing the duties of acting police chief in Cedar Rapids while the search continues.
He is the only one from Iowa to make the top eight. After this, the city manager will invite some of the candidates back for another interview, tour of the city and community meetings.
What's On KCRG