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Iowa State Patrol told staff not to participate in tear gas investigation

Published: Feb. 26, 2021 at 7:02 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Iowa State Patrol’s senior command staff and legal department advised the Commander of District #11 to not participate in Iowa City’s outside investigation regarding tear-gassing Black Lives Matter protesters back in June, according to emails.

The emails, which our KCRG-TV9 i9 Investigative Unit received through a public records request, show the outside firm reaching out three different times during a period of about a month without an answer. OIR Group still created an 80-page report on the incident with around 40 recommendations, which Iowa City’s City Council will use to reform and restructure its police department.

In their report, The OIR Group said it couldn’t receive direct information about the involvement or command of the Iowa State Patrol because they declined to participate.

The report called Iowa State Patrol’s involvement at the protests significant and said cooperation from the agency would “have helped fill relevant gaps in the understanding of influential decision-making that occurred at that time,”.

Janice Weiner, who is an at-Large city councilmember for Iowa City, said she believes the city council can make confident decisions on reforming the police, even without the participation of the Iowa State Patrol.

“Yes, there’s a missing piece,” she said. “But I think we have enough in terms of context and time to have a good understanding of what happened.”

Pauline Taylor, who is another councilmember for Iowa City, told TV9 in an email that she wasn’t comfortable speaking about the report because the council hasn’t had a thorough discussion of the report during their council meetings. The report was released in late January.

Councilmembers John Thomas, Mazahir Salih, Susan Mims and Laura Bergus didn’t return TV9′s multiple emails for comment.

Lieutenant Greg Obbink, who is the District Commander for the Iowa State Patrol in District 11, apologized to the OIR Group for having to send multiple requests.

In an email, he said he could only guess the previous emails were sent to his junk folder or had mistakenly deleted those emails.

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Ala Mohamed, who is part of the Iowa Freedom Riders, said it looks like the state patrol was stalling the outside group.

TV9 reached out to the Iowa State Patrol to learn more about why senior command staff decided to not participate. It hasn’t responded as of publication.

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