City selects new police chief


Iowa City Police Chief Jody Matherly smiles during a City Council meeting after being appointed to his new position on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016. Matherly served in Flint, Michigan, Grinnell and Altoona prior to being selected by the Iowa City search committee. (The Daily Iowan/Joseph Cress)

At its Tuesday meeting, the City Council passed a resolution approving Jody Matherly for the position of Iowa City police chief.

By Molly Hunter | [email protected]

The search for a new Iowa City police chief is over.

When Sam Hargadine, the former Iowa City Chief-of-Police, left the department earlier this year for a position with the Iowa Association of Chiefs of Police, the search process for a new chief began. That process has now come to a close. Altoona Chief of Police Jody Matherly will join the Iowa City police in January as the next police chief.

Early on, the city brought Slavin Management Consultants on board to help coordinate the search at a national level. Its search process, which did not ask for racial or ethnic information, produced a list of 18 potential candidates. With help from city staff, this list was narrowed to 10.

A questionnaire further narrowed the pool to six semifinalists to bring in for more in-depth interviews. Two more dropped out of the process during the interviews.

The candidate list arrived at four finalists, which were interviewed by 16 panelists. Afterward, City Manger Geoff Fruin advanced three candidates to the finalist stage. The three finalists were Charlotte-Mecklenburg police Capt. Rich Austin, Iowa City police Capt. Troy Kelsay, and Altoona Police Chief Matherly.

The city experienced pushback about the lack of racial diversity in the group of finalist candidates.

“We made every effort to recruit a diverse applicant pool,” Fruin said. “When we received the 18 applicants, there was very good reason to believe that we had a diverse applicant pool.”

Fruin said some of the minority candidates may have dropped out at the questionnaire stage.

Councilor Kingsley Botchway acknowledged the growing importance of diversity during last night’s meeting.

“One of the hot-button topics is going to be disproportionality, and that’s going to be coming around the bend in February,” Botchway said.

All of three finalist candidates were present at a public meet-and-greet, which gave residents a chance to interact with the finalists.

Following the meet-and-greet, public comments were considered by Fruin. He then forwarded his selection for the appointment to council for approval, which they gave at last night’s meeting.

Matherly is the Altoona police chief, a position he took after serving as the chief in Grinnell. His experience there was preceded by his time in the Flint, Michigan, Police Department.

“In each of these communities I think you have unique attributes with Iowa City [which] really gives Chief Matherly a unique perspective as he approaches the job here,” Fruin said.

All the councilors who spoke noted Matherly’s strong reputation as a visible presence and expressed their anticipation to begin working with him.

“I think Chief Matherly will be a great addition to this community, and look forward to having him on board,” Councilor Susan Mims said.

While working in Grinnell, Matherly participated in student outreach at Grinnell College. There, he attended student orientations, as well as meetings of Grinnell’s ACLU chapter and student government.

During his time at the meet-and-greet, Matherly emphasized the importance of facilitating communication between university students and the surrounding community. Matherly expects his transition into working with Iowa City and the University of Iowa to be smooth, as he trained UI Assistant Vice President for Public Safety Scott Beckner.

“He’s very active in the various police industry associations. He was up to speed on every topic that we wanted to discuss with him,” Fruin said. “He very much is plugged in to best practices, and I think he has demonstrated a willingness to be on the leading edge of particular issues.”

At the council meeting, Fruin also recognized the work done by the two interim chiefs, Capt. Bill Campbell and Capt. Troy Kelsay, during the search process.

Matherly’s selection was unanimously approved by the council, and the resolution approving his appointment passed 7-0. Matherly will begin serving as chief on Jan. 23, 2017.

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