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Humboldt to hire police chief

HUMBOLDT — The City of Humboldt has decided to hire a police chief to oversee the Humboldt Police Department, a position that has been contracted out to the Humboldt County Sheriff for the last 11 years.

The Humboldt City Council voted unanimously last week to terminate its agreement with the county. Each year, they were paying the county just shy of $40,000 for Humboldt County Sheriff Dean Kruger to assume the duties of what would normally be reserved for the police chief. Activating the contract’s termination clause, the city has asked Humboldt County Supervisors to agree to a termination date of Dec. 31 — about a week shorter than the 90 days that would normally be required.

The contract, renewed annually, was scheduled to expire June 30, 2021.

City Administrator Travis Goedken said setting the new termination date to coincide with the end of the calendar year made more sense from an administrative standpoint. He did not anticipate any disagreements from supervisors as of Friday.

The arrangement was prompted by a situation where the mayor didn’t reappoint a police chief at a time when the city administrator position was vacant. What was meant to be a temporary Band-Aid continued for over a decade.

A few situations with the Humboldt Police Department prompted the city to seriously consider putting more boots on the ground while focusing on the city’s growth and departmental needs.

Within the department, there is one vacancy, one officer attending the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy and one that took a medical leave starting Friday.

“Getting back to the police chief role should allow us to address some of those needs within our department,” Goedken said.

In addition to the benefits of another law enforcement officer, Goedken said the new hire will bring some added perks to the city with more code enforcement. Code enforcement, an item of ongoing discussion with the City Council, has been primarily administered through city hall over recent years. Previously, it was part of the police chief’s job description.

Already, the city administrator said two external candidates have expressed interest in the position.

Experience is a component of the ideal candidate for the new spot, he said, “but it’s not the be-all end-all.” Also up for consideration are the abilities to work well within the organization, grow into the position and demonstrate potential for growth as the city eyes its own growth.

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