The Cedar Rapids Police Department's training academy is once again free to accept trainees from outside agencies.
Last week, the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy council unanimouslyárescinded their decision from this summer to bar the police department's regional academy from accepting applicants from outside agencies unless those applicants could prove there would be some form of hardship in attending the state academy at Camp Dodge in Johnston. At the time, supporters of the council's decision - including councilávice chair and Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner - ásaid the move was necessary to keep money going to the state academy, which is not fully funded by the state.
With the decision reversed, the Cedar Rapids academy will be able to accept applicants from other departments.
"I was hopeful this was the decision that was going to be arrived at," Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman said Friday. "It's the correct and the right decision. It was the right thing to do."
The controversy arose in June when the Hiawatha and Lisbon police departments and the Sixth Judicial District requested permission from the ILEA councilá to send trainees to the Cedar Rapids academy. While those requests had previously been granted by the ILEA director, the burden of weighing those requests had recently been shifted to the council. Gardner said in October that none of the departments could prove their applicants would suffer any hardships and denied the requests. The council stood behind that decision at their August meeting, despite testimony from Jerman and chiefs from area police departments.
Gardner said in October that the council's stance on granting permission was based on financial concerns about the ILEA. Essentially, every candidate that went through the Cedar Rapids academy represented $5,500 - tuition to attend the ILEA - that wasn't going to the state academy. Funding concerns for the ILEA remain today, Gardner said Friday.
"When you get down to it, that is the issue," he said. "If the state academy was fully funded, this wouldn't be an issue. No one is saying the (Cedar Rapids) regional academy is substandard."
Gardner said he and Clinton Police Chief Brian Guy, the council's chairman, met in October to discuss the issue. What they found was the council had no statutory authority to prevent candidates from attending the Cedar Rapids academy. Furthermore, they took a look at the financial impact of the Cedar Rapids academy taking five to seven candidates a year that would otherwise attend the ILEA.
"Is that cost difference going to negatively impact the academy's operating cost? I think the answer is 'no,'" Gardner said.
Gardner, whose office had previously sent recruits to the Cedar Rapids academy when it made sense from a timing standpoint, but halted the practice when the ILEA's funding issues came to light, said he hasn't decided where he'll send new hires in the future. For now, both the sheriff's office is operating a full strength.
"Obviously, I have the two options," Gardner said. "We'll have to look at it and see what makes the most sense for us."
Jerman said the police department will go forward - as it has in years past - with informing other agencies when they plan on hosting their next academy. He said he was thankful for the council's decision to revisit the matter.
"I've very appreciative of the council's decision to go back to the way things were," he said. "It's the best decision and it's also the right thing to do."ILEA Director Arlen Ciechanowski was attending an academy graduation ceremony Friday and could not be reached for comment.