By PETER KASPARI
Messenger staff writer
Reflecting back on 2011, Fort Dodge Police Chief Tim Carmody said, for his department, the year was successful.
Fort Dodge Patrol Officer Zach Stanley works on filling out a report on the laptop in his squad car. Stanley recently celebrated his one-year anniversary as a member of the Police Department, and helped the department reach its full capacity of 40 staff in 2011.
"We talked about three major goals, which were staff development, service and community relations," he said. "We hit every one of them last year, and this year will give us the opportunity to expand on them."
Carmody said the department's success can be attributed to several factors.
"The partnerships that we have, the dedication of our staff, and a community that wants to help make Fort Dodge a safer place all contributed to our successes," he said.
In addition to growing in terms of their goals, the department also literally grew by reaching its full staff of 40 officers.
Carmody said even though more than half of the department is young, that provides more opportunities for growth.
"Fifty-three percent of our staff has less than six years of service," he said. "By providing our resources, we'll be able to show the services that we're capable of delivering."
Last year also saw the debut of the Fort Dodge and Webster County Citizen's Academy, an eight-week program designed to show ordinary citizens how different public safety partners do their jobs. Over the course of those weeks, citizens heard from members of the Fort Dodge Police Department, Webster County Sheriff's Department, Iowa State Patrol, Webster County attorney's office, and the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, among others.
The class, which Carmody brought to Fort Dodge, was held from 6 to 9 p.m. Tuesday nights. In all, 27 people graduated from the program, which exceeded Carmody's expectations, which were around 20 participants.
Carmody said planning for the second Citizen's Academy is already under way.
"We're hoping that it will be happening sometime in April," he said. "We'll be sending out applications once we have the date. Much of that will depend heavily on the alumni from the previous class."
Carmody said the members of the first class are going to be a key part of the future classes, offering feedback and helping with the planning.
Though there were successes last year, Carmody said there were challenges as well.
"The challenges are to be good stewards of the tax dollars that we receive," he said. "It's a challenge to stay up to date with the technology the criminals are using to try and get away. We also want to communicate with the community as much as we can to make them aware of what's going on and to make Fort Dodge a safer place."
Carmody said those challenges are always present, and the department works hard to overcome them.
As for this year, Carmody said the department is looking forward to the plans they're making, as well as moving back into the Webster County Law Enforcement Center.
"That will help us get back under one roof," he said. "There have been technology challenges that have arisen from us being out of the building. We're looking at enhancing and maximizing the technology we have and the technology we're going to be getting."
He added the department is looking to create a new position in the department.
"We're looking at getting a crime prevention officer position," he said. "Once current officers who are in training are done, we'll be able to fill it. We also hope to expand our Neighborhood Watch program into a Business Watch program with that new position."
Carmody also said the future holds further development with more public safety partnerships.
"All public safety partners work together to make Fort Dodge safer," he said. "What I'm seeing is much better coordination. It's always been good, but it continues to get better."
He added the department hopes to continue developing a strong partnership with the community.
"As they learn to understand our job, they'll understand what they're capable of doing," Carmody said. "They'll find they're capable of making the community safer."
Contact Peter Kaspari at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org