Residents of the northeast Iowa town of Independence have shot down the idea of doing away with city’s police force. The city council was considering hiring a consultant to look at the possibility of restructuring or eliminating the Independence Police Department and contracting out duties to the another agency, like the Buchanan County Sheriff’s Department.
Dozens of residents, including Donna Hall, packed the small city council chambers Thursday night. “Our town has grown, crime is on the increase and they want to take away my police department? No, I don’t think so,” Hall said. “Not over my dead body.”
The discussion about the police department’s future started months ago as council members have raised concerns about lost revenue from commercial property taxes. After about an hour of discussion last night, council members agreed to abandon any idea of doing away with police services.
Council member Bonita Davis said they’ll look for other ways to save money. “We will stay with the police department and not spend any money to do any kind of consulting or a study of it,” Davis said.
Independence resident Sherry Jacobs was among the people who walked out of the meeting with a sense of relief. “I was very happy to hear some of the council people who I thought wanted the police department done away with…that [they] didn’t want it done away with,” Jacobs said.
Some people speculated the mayor’s arrest last year could have had something to do with the potential for eliminating the department. Mayor Carl Scharff was charged with interference with official acts, harassment of a public official and public intoxication. He was also caught on camera saying he planned to get back at the officer.
The mayor said the council’s meeting had nothing to do with that incident and that the discussions about the future of the police department started well before his issues with police.
By Jill Kasperie, KCRG-TV, Cedar Rapids