Cedar Rapids Police detail policies, reform plans in response to protests
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cedar Rapids police and city leaders explained policies already in place and laid out plans for reforms in response to protests calling for change after the death of George Floyd.
Most notably, Police Chief Wayne Jerman said the department is working to create a citizen police review board to review police conduct, use of force and other law enforcement issues, but did not have details on what that board would look like and when it might start.
“This is also an opportunity for the community to learn more about the Cedar Rapids Police Department and the policies and procedures that were already in place,” said Chief Jerman in welcoming the discussions.
Police and city leaders had been meeting with protesters on proposed reforms this week. Those organizers have planned a protest Saturday to continue the push for those changes.
“We are committed to listening and facilitating improvements,” he added.
Chief Jerman also recognized the new law the Iowa Legislature approved on police reforms, which bans chokeholds, allows the Iowa Attorney General to investigate deaths at the hands of police and makes it harder to hire officers who commit misconduct.
“I want the community to have confidence in CRPD, your police department, that has the policies in place to meet these requirements,” Chief Jerman said.
Some of the policies and procedures were in place before the death of George Floyd, Chief Jerman said, including the deployment of body cameras for all officers and open publication of its policies and complaints against police on the city’s website. He also noted ongoing implicit bias training for police officers and other city staff.
Chief Jerman celebrated the department’s work to coordinate mental health response between police and other agencies, noting a national award it received. The Police Department works with a liaison from Foundation 2 to connect individuals having a mental health crisis to resources to avoid jail. That program is expanding this year. The department also has a crisis intervention team, created in 2017, with officers with special training to respond to these types of incidents.
The work of the SET task force also included programs and services with outreach to the community, Jerman noted.
During a protest last Saturday, Chief Jerman announced a change in policy requiring officers to intervene when they see other police engaged in illegal or unethical conduct.
The Cedar Rapids Police Use of Force policy already prohibits chokeholds and requires officer training in other techniques. Chief Jerman noted the department’s national accreditation from CALEA (The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies) on officer hiring and training practices, which only 5-percent of departments nationwide have received.
“Nothing is more important to me than having the trust of our community,” Chief Jerman said.
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