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Cedar Falls host online meet-and-greet with police chief candidates

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CEDAR FALLS, Iowa (KWWL) -- The COVID-19 pandemic hasn't stopped city governments from carrying out their tasks, including finding a new police chief for the city of Cedar Falls.

There are three candidates in the running for chief. Two are from within the police department: Assistant Chief Craig Berte and Captain Mark Howard. The third is Lieutenant Derrick Turner from the Port of Portland Police Department in Portland, Oregon.

While an in-person event would have been preferred so people could meet the candidates face-to-face, the pandemic took away that luxury. Instead, the city held an online event where Mayor Rob Green posed questions to the three.

"I got probably 20 questions. Some were similar so I was able to winnow those down to 12. We went through that this week to interview each of the candidates," he said.

The question of how would they improve the relationship between the department and the community yielded different answers from each.

"I know we can't do much with COVID the way it is but we need to open ourselves up when that's available. Let people see what we are. Let people see we are still a functioning police department," said Capt. Howard.

Howard has, in the past, been a vocal opponent of the PSO program in Cedar Falls. However during the Q&A, he seemed to have changed his position to more neutral and open to the changes it could bring. He said there is the opportunity to have more officers on patrol and more firefighters responding to a fire.

Asst. Chief Berte put an emphasis on getting officers out of cars and into the community. One example being more patrols on area walking and bike trails. This could be on UTV or bicycle.

"Foot patrols on our downtown. Foot patrols on college hill. We do a lot of foot patrols on the evening when College Hill is active. Anything we can do to get out in the community," he said.

Lt. Howard of Portland, while not as familiar with the community, applied a line of thinking he could apply to any department.

"I don't believe we as a police department, or any department anywhere, should shove police services to the community and say 'here's what you're going to get take it or leave it,'" Lt. Howard said.

It is still a question of when the appointment will be. Will the current council make the appointment or will it be delayed until after the special election and made under that council? If the latter is the case, it could be months before the appointment is made.

Watch the Q&A with the candidates and Mayor Rob Green here.

Collin Dorsey

Weekend Anchor

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