Police conference focuses on preventing targeted attacks

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley was a keynote speaker and discussed some issues facing police today
It's part of a three-day conference in Coralville for the Iowa Police Chief's Association.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 3:59 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - “Law enforcement historically has been somewhat reactive to threats as they occur,” Dennis McDaniel, Johnston Police Chief, said. “We train and we do a very good job at responding to incidents, but what are we doing to pre-empt them?”

That’s the focus of this year’s conference from the Iowa Police Chief’s Association.

McDaniel, the president of the association, says police will learn techniques to prevent and respond to targeted attacks from a retired FBI agent who specializes in assessing threats.

“It’s really a comprehensive approach to what can we do and what’s accessible to any size law enforcement agency,” McDaniel said.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley spoke at the event — and called out efforts to defund the police.

“Misguided and reckless movements such as defunding the police have a damaging impact on public safety,” Sen. Grassley said.

“Defund the Police” became a push during the Black Lives Matter Movement after the death of George Floyd in 2020.

Grassley says departments have struggled with recruiting and retaining officers in the last few years. He’s introduced a bill to support police departments — called the Invest to Protect Act. He says it will set up a grant program to give local agencies $50 million a year for training and recruitment.

“There’s some cities in this country [that] have hundreds of vacancies and then we wonder why the crime rate goes up,” Sen. Grassley said.

McDaniel says he’s seen declining numbers of officers in Iowa. A survey from the Police Executive Research Forum shows police agencies are losing officers faster than they can hire new ones — despite hiring more officers in 2022 than in previous years.

McDaniel says that means fewer officers are having to do more.

“When a citizen calls 911, they still expect the police to show up,” McDaniel said. “That means forced overtime, that means additional shifts, that means additional strain on family life.”

He says it takes a community effort to create positive relationships with law enforcement.

“We want to be transparent,” McDaniel said. “We want to be able to have those candid conversations with our communities on how we can do the job better.”

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