Johnson County Sheriff will continue aiding North Liberty police

BY HOLLY HINES | JUNE 24, 2009 7:21 AM

Opting to wait before hiring two new officers, North Liberty will remain the only police-patrolled Johnson County town to also contract with the county deputies, said Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek.

The agreement will means Johnson County deputies will aid the North Liberty police in patrolling the city.

Though the North Liberty city administrator recommended adding two officers, economic concerns caused the plan to stall, said City Councilor Gerry Kuhl.

Rather than spending an estimated $90,000 to $100,000 per new officer, he said, city officials prefer to wait and see if a newly added administrative position — whose role could increase overall efficiency in the police department — will remove the need for increased city patrolling.

This contract with the county will cost the city approximately $48,000, Pulkrabek said, and will likely receive county approval at the June 25 Board of Supervisors meeting, said Johnson County Supervisor Rod Sullivan.

North Liberty officials will consider increasing their police force in the future, but they have not made definite decisions, said Kuhl, and the town continues to look into standards regarding the size of a city police force.

For now, though, the county will provide assistance.

Sheriff’s deputies are assigned a certain area in Johnson County, Pulkrabek said. Deputies assigned to North Liberty also patrol Oxford and Tiffin. While a deputy may not spend all of her or his time in North Liberty, a core group of deputies will share the duty.

This is similar in some aspects to the way the Iowa City police split their jurisdictions.

Iowa City is divided into four neighborhoods for patrolling. An officer may spend a year assigned to a single neighborhood, allowing her or him to know the area and people.

“It’s always beneficial to have an officer be familiar with the area,” Pulkrabek said, and the deputies have been around for a while and know North Liberty well.

County deputies and municipal police have been able to coordinate well in the past, Pulkrabek said.

Though North Liberty and county law enforcement tried patrolling at different times at the onset of the contract, both found working simultaneously can be helpful.

Under some circumstances, deputies work with towns in Johnson County even without a contract. Iowa City is one example, with both agencies operating under a mutual-aid agreement, said Iowa City police Sgt. Troy Kelsay.

Deputies are prepared to aid city police when needed. And city officers are willing to help the county as well. Even outside their jurisdiction, law officers aren’t apt to “put their blinders on” in the face of trouble, Pulkrabek said.

“If they see some type of crime, they’re going to act,” he said.

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