WATERLOO, Iowa — Waterloo’s police chief says he wants to rebuild trust between police officers and minority residents through community policing and other initiatives.
Safety Services director Dan Trelka spoke to the Waterloo City Council on Monday about efforts a week after he and his department were criticized by African-American residents about several use of force incidents and a perceived bias by officers, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (http://bit.ly/2dAVPLe) reported.
Trelka says he is working to increase accountability by being as transparent as employment laws allow about discipline given to officers who violate protocols.
“I can do better as the chief of police to talk about the discipline … to the officers,” Trelka said. “(But) we’ve got 123 cops that are doing a darned good job, and in the past year I’ve only had to discipline five or six of them.”
Plans include increased partnerships with community organizations, decentralizing command authority to give officers more power to make good decisions at the street level and changing hiring procedures to encourage more minority officers to apply for police jobs.
Trelka emphasized the department was still going to be pursuing justice against the “worst of the worst” who are perpetuating violence in the community.
“We’re not saying we’re going soft on crime,” he said. “That’s not true at all. We need to hold people accountable.”
Councilman Steve Schmitt expressed confusion as to why the changes are necessary since statistics show that from 2009 to 2015, use of force incidents in the area are down 60 percent. Trelka noted the city still had an uptick in shootings and a need to improve community relationships.
Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com