Cedar Rapids puts more emphasis on community policing - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids puts more emphasis on community policing

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by Brady Smith

CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) - Two people face charges after a Cedar Rapids police officer was hurt on the job.

A fellow officer found 30-year old officer Tim Davis unconscious after chasing robbery suspects Sunday night. An investigation led police to 17-year old Jose Rockiett, who is charged with robbery and willful injury. Rockiett made his initial appearance in Linn County District Court Tuesday. He's being held under $250,000 bond, and faces up to 35 years in prison if convicted on both felony charges.

A 14-year old boy was also arrested and charged with 2nd degree robbery. Police are still looking for a third suspect they believe was involved.

Officer Davis went through three hours of surgery for head injuries on Monday. He was in guarded condition as of Tuesday night.

One neighborhood leader told us, he's sorry to see something like that happen in his city.

"I just hope we can get things straightened out here," said Terry Bilsland, president of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association. Bilsland believes there are no bad neighborhoods, but a handful of people who give them bad reputations.

"95 percent of the people here in Wellington Heights are decent people, and 5 percent give us a black eye."

Like the Moundview area, where police say Officer Davis was assaulted, Bilsland admits his own neighborhood has some problems.

"We have some drug issues, and we have some assaults that go on here," he said.

He meets weekly with police to discuss those concerns, but community policing is nothing new here. Residents marched these streets in protest back in 2006, demanding an end to crime. And for the past few years, police have used the federal "Weed and Seed," program, which Lieutenant Chuck Mincks considers a valuable tool in keeping the peace.

"That can be utilized in the greatest part, to hire back officers on overtime," said Mincks. That's overtime worked in high-crime areas. "Weed and Seed" gave $30,000 in federal dollars to the department this year.

"We watch for the highest concentrations of crimes against people," Mincks said, "things like streetside assaults, robberies."

Wherever those crimes happen, that's where officers have increased patrols. But now, with cities trimming budgets, Bilsland says citizen cooperation is more important than ever.

"If they're afraid to talk to the police department, they're always going to be afraid."

Sergeant Cristy Hamblin says Police Chief Greg Graham is looking into a law that would hold the parents of juveniles who commit crimes accountable. She says the department is also working on opening a new district office in the area of 1st Avenue and 15th Street, in an effort to boost their presence in that area.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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