Standing at the front of a crowded room, new Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman made a pledge to the city council as he was sworn in Monday.
“I promise you,” Jerman said, “I will not let you down.”
Jerman, 55, called his hiring as the department’s 43rd chief of police the high-point in his law enforcement career. With his hand on a Bible held by his daughter, Jerman recited the oath of office. His wife of 24 years, Terri, followed by pinning his new badge onto his uniform.
Dozens of law enforcement officials, neighborhood leaders and new co-workers listened as Jerman emphasized trust and integrity during his formal comments. He told police employees he would lead by example, and said the community should have high expectations of his new department.
“The people who live here deserve nothing but the highest caliber of police service,” Jerman said. “This is what policing is all about – service above and before self. This is what community policing is – working together as a team to ensure that Cedar Rapids is safer tomorrow than it is today.”
Jerman had spent his entire 33-year law enforcement career at the Montgomery County, Md. Police Department, starting as a patrol officer in 1979 and advancing to assistant chief in 2007. His hiring in Cedar Rapids ended an 8-month search that relied on input from citizens, police employees, elected officials and leaders at other law enforcement agencies.
“I sincerely believe Chief Jerman will certainly be worth the wait,” City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said.
Jerman said he plans to meet with every member of the police department to get to know them and to listen to their feedback. He also plans to ride along with patrol officers to learn about his new community.
Capt. Bernie Walther, one of three captains who served as the interim police chief, said Jerman has worked with other communities to help their police departments become nationally accredited, a status the Cedar Rapids department hopes to attain.
“I think that will go a long way in determining where we’re at compared to other agencies and what our shortcomings are,” Walther said. “He can take the ball from there.”
Former police chief Greg Graham, who left Cedar Rapids in mid-January to return to Florida, met Jerman recently at a national conference for police chiefs. Jerman said they spoke briefly about some of the progresses the department had made.
“He laid some foundation stones, and he built upon them,” Jerman said. “I don’t see any reason why I can’t continue to build upon them. It’s going in a great direction.”
Jerman has rented an apartment in Cedar Rapids for now, but has started the house-shopping process. His family will remain in Maryland until this summer, after his 18-year-old daughter Bridgette finishes her first year at college. She plans to enroll at the University of Iowa.
During their visit to Cedar Rapids in August, Terri Jerman said she quizzed waiters, store clerks and other people in the community about Iowa. She had never been to Iowa before, and came away impressed.
She said she believes the community will be equally impressed by her husband.“He is a wonderful, caring, compassionate, smart man,” Terri Jerman said. “I think this department and this community is going to love him. I mean that. He’s just a wonderful all-around guy.”