Iowa City Police Department reviewed on community policing and response to Black Lives Matter protests

Iowa City Police Department will also be reviewed on minority recruitment and officer well-being, with city councilors voluntarily interviewing, as well.


Jeff Sigmund

Iowa City Police Dept. 410 E. Washington St. As seen on Monday June 8, 2020.

Brian Grace, News Reporter

The Iowa City Police Department will undergo a voluntary review by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies this week, on its response to the 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, as well as the department’s efforts toward community policing.

In addition to response to protests and community policing, the police department will also be reviewed on minority recruitment and officer well-being.

According to a memo from Interim Police Chief Denise Brotherton and Sergeant and Training/Accreditation/Evidence Supervisor Doug Hart, two assessors from the commission will evaluate the department’s policies, management, and operations to determine whether or not the department meets commission standards.

The memo states that The Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies is a governing body made up of law enforcement’s major executive associations, which include the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

Hart said the commission will also interview city-council members for additional input on the police department.

Brotherton wrote in an email to The Daily Iowan that the four chosen topics were all top priorities for the department, and that the protests had a significant impact on the community and the police department.

“Through the accreditation process, we aim to achieve best practices in policy and procedure and the highest standards of professionalism,” Brotherton wrote in the email.

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The memo states that the Iowa City Police Department is one of 10 law-enforcement agencies in Iowa with the commission certification, a distinction that 4 percent of law enforcement agencies have nationally.

Hart said for participating law-enforcement agencies, the commission holds annual web-based reviews and solidifies the agencies’ accreditation status following an on-site review every four years.

“We had quite a year in Iowa City,” Hart said. “I know there are departments who do not get re-accredited. You have to make it a good-faith effort and I think when they get done at the end, they’re going to find out that this is something that’s important to the Iowa City Police Department and that we put a good foot forward trying to make sure that we’re staying at the bar there.”

If the department earns the certification this year, it will be its sixth re-accreditation since 2002.

“When we’re talking to assessors, they’re looking for different perspectives,” Hart said. “We think that’s fair; we’re open to criticism, and not that the city council’s always critical of us, but I think we thought this was an excellent chance for elected officials to be out there and speak with our accreditation agency about how they feel their police department is doing.”

Iowa City City Councilor Janice Weiner, who is participating in one of the interviews for the first time, said she thought that the commission review signaled motivation on behalf of the police department to continue improving.

“I’m sure there are going to be plenty of people out there who say, ‘well this proof that it doesn’t work well,’” Weiner said of the review. “To me, the fact that we’re willing to constantly put this stuff out and say okay, ‘how do we make this better?’ is proof that we’re determined to move in the right direction here.”