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Iowa police chief seeks new position to stem gun violence

June 5, 2018

WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) — Waterloo’s police chief wants to hire a violence reduction officer to focus on stemming gun violence.

Police Chief Dan Trelka told The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier that the officer would work with nonprofits, school resource officers, the University of Northern Iowa’s Mentors in Violence Prevention program and other agencies to identify individuals who may be prone to joining a gang.

“We’ve got a significant problem in the community now with violence being committed against our young men,” Trelka said. “We found a solution that we’re confident can address this.”

Officer Justin Brandt created a nonprofit that identifies and provides programming for such men to help put them on a different course. Brandt said he’s secured $170,000 in grants, $35,000 of which would be used to support the violence reduction officer’s salary.

The nonprofit’s grant would fund an officer from September through January, Trelka said. The officer would be tasked with finding other grants and funds outside of city property tax to support the position beyond January, he said.

Councilwoman Margaret Klein said she likes the idea because no city taxpayer money would be used to fund the position.

“That means we get to try it out, see if it shows real promise here on our Waterloo streets, and then make that decision down the road,” she said.

Councilman Steve Schmitt said he’s concerned about raising the number of police staff.

“It just seems like we keep looking for more money to do stuff and we keep spending more money to do stuff, but we’re not getting the results we want,” Schmitt said.

The council hasn’t set a date to vote on Trelka’s request to begin the hiring process for a new officer.

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Information from: Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier, http://www.wcfcourier.com

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