Report reveals excessive force concerns for Waterloo Police - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Report reveals excessive force concerns for Waterloo Police

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(KWWL) -

An external review of the Waterloo Police Department conducted in 2015, reveals that the department was directed to "review and revise" it's use-of-force policy. This follows news of several city settlements and videos of police misconduct, which have drawn attention to the departments handle on excessive force. 

As a renewed sense of working together is promised by both Mayor Hart and Police Chief Trelka, many are still asking how the Police Department plans to address issues that are major hurdles in moving forward.

Former Mayor Buck Clark says he made an effort to address the challenges of the Waterloo Police Department by asking the Department of Justice for their help in 2015. 

During the end of his term, former Mayor Buck Clark had asked the Department of Justice's Office of Community Policing for their help with the Waterloo Police Department. 

"That was at a time in Waterloo, where we had had a police officer shooting where he had killed a young man," said Clark. "We were having many shootings in Waterloo where individuals were firing their weapons off at houses, and at each other. And for Waterloo, we were having a relatively large homicide rate."

The Department of Justice had suggested that their comprehensive review would not be necessary, instead sending in the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) to provide a review. 

PERF conducted an external review from June 24-June 26, 2015.

A team from PERF conducted interviews with Waterloo Police officers and involved community members. The report also details that the visit included "patrol ride-alongs to gain a deeper understanding of the issues in Waterloo." 

The report following the review was not provided to the Waterloo Police Department until September 18, 2015. 

KWWL was able to obtain a copy of the report. 

The nine page report looked at the internal and external operations of the Waterloo Police Department and its relations within the community. 

Within the report, PERF noted that overall "it seemed there was overall support for the chief and department." The report when on to say, "However, it became apparent that there was somewhat of a racial divide in the city and a lack of trust between the minority community and some officers."

One major challenge listed in the external report addressed "department's use of force policy."

A challenge that has surfaced after several city settlements and videos of police misconduct have drawn attention to the departments handle on excessive force. 

In August, a police settlement shows video from 2013, where an officer knees the victim in the groin. Later in August, a settlement was reached with a teenager who was thrown to the ground by an officer during an arrest in 2014. The teenager was paid out $5,000 to keep quiet. Just earlier this month, video released from an incident earlier in 2016,  shows an officer verbally and physically assaulting a suspect after a chase. 

The PERF report suggested, "A review of the department's use-of-force policy indicated there are opportunities to update the policy and clarify language on expectations related to officer use of force. A complete review of the department's use-of-force policy could be extremely beneficial to the department."

"It had some recommendations, but quite honestly, I thought it was rather generic," said Clark. 

Clark expressed that much of what was covered in the report by PERF did not come as a surprise to neither him nor the Waterloo Police Department. 

Other issues addressed in the report included police-community relations, minority-recruitment/hiring, complaint and discipline process, and gang-related violence. 

"We know all of those things," said Clark. "We knew all of those things. We've known them for a long time. How do we fix them? What do we do? How do we get more staff? How do we get more community events?"

Clark says when he was in office, both him and Chief Trelka made efforts before the report was released, to reach out to minority communities and recruit officers. 

"I expected a myriad of things, and I expected them to follow up," said Clark. "I expected help from somebody to help us implement some of the things they did talk about."

Clark says the report was released during the end of his term. As far as he knows, PERF never came to follow-up on the recommendations made in the report. 

Clark says he supports both Mayor Hart and Chief Trelka and believes they want what's best for the community.

KWWL reached out to the Department of Justice about this report several times, but did not receive a response.  

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