By The Gazette Editorial Board
Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman has been on the job for only a few weeks, and he’s been spending a lot of that time listening.
He’s listening to community leaders. He’s meeting with neighborhood associations. Jerman said he plans to be “a sponge” for the first 60 days of his tenure, soaking up as much information about the city, its people and its law enforcement needs as he can. We think that’s smart.
We recently sat down with Jerman and listened to him explain his broad experience in Montgomery County (Maryland), law enforcement philosophy and initial thoughts on how he’ll lead the department. We were encouraged by what we heard. And we’re anxious to see his plans take shape in the coming months.
Jerman said that community policing efforts pursued by his predecessor, former Chief Greg Graham, leave a solid foundation for the new chief to build upon. We’re eager to see how Jerman will expand and strengthen relationships between the city’s neighborhoods and police. Jerman said recruiting minority officers will be a priority in an effort to make the department’s racial makeup better reflect the community it serves.
Jerman has dug into local crime statistics and sees the issues that residents know all too well. He’s troubled by the fact that gun shots are ringing out far too often in the city. Thefts from autos are up and there’s been a slight uptick in the number of armed robberies, he said. Many Cedar Rapidians will be watching to see how Jerman’s department responds.
Jerman believes the expanded use of technology, including traffic cameras and license plate readers, can improve the department’s ability to ensure public safety. With regard to license plate readers, Jerman said he’s sensitive to civil liberties concerns and would work with city officials to craft policies governing their use and the use of the data they collect.
The chief, who once led his former department’s media office, also made a commitment to transparency, especially in cases where members of the department are accused of misconduct and public trust is at stake. “It can’t be hidden. It has to be put out in the open,” Jerman said.
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