Northwest Iowa town wrestling with losing half its police force
MAPLETON, Iowa (KTIV) - A northwest Iowa city is faced with a difficult choice. Shut down the police department or increase the department’s funding.
We traveled to Mapleton Iowa, where the mayor will now become the acting police chief. Mayor Brent Streck wants to assure his residents: Mapleton will have law enforcement coverage, but it will look different very soon.
He and the city council will have to decide if the city should maintain its own department. Starting March 15, Streck will also become the acting police chief per Iowa law, despite having no law enforcement experience. That’s because the city’s police chief and another part-time officer are moving on to new agencies.
“So we still have one full time one part-time officer, we’ll fill them in as much as we can on the schedule, but then letting the county know when we have gaps,” said Streck.
The city essentially has a few options: Let the county take over all policing, mostly just responding to 911 calls. Keep its own department at added cost. Or pay the county to provide some guaranteed policing services.
If the city would like to keep its own police department that would also be an added cost the mayor said the city would have to raise salaries in order to remain competitive with other nearby law enforcement agencies.
“We don’t want to have to raise taxes. But we want to make sure we have an adequate level of coverage. So there’s that fine line, we have to find,” said Streck.
The mayor said the city would probably have to raise its officers’ salaries by $20,000 to remain competitive. The city spends about $200,000 on policing right now, but it could reduce costs by paying the Monona County Sheriff’s Office to patrol the city, though coverage may not be 24/7.
Streck said those contracts can range from $80,000 to $400,000 a year. He hopes the small-town atmosphere might help recruit new officers. Mapleton’s previous police chief also trained a K9 at his own expense. The K9 will follow the chief to his new job.
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