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City Council looks for ways to reduce crime

BY NICOLE KARLIS | NOVEMBER 17, 2009 7:21 AM

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City officials are considering adding a special juvenile detective or an entire bureau to the Iowa City police as means to find alternative ways to reduce youth violence.

The idea, inspired by the Davenport police, was just one of many discussed Monday night at an Iowa City City Council work session.

“This would be a specialty position enveloped with investigation, attending meetings that go specifically in the juvenile realm,” Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine said.

If they decide to add the position, Councilor Ross Wilburn noted it would take a person with a special set of skills to help troubled juveniles.

“Working with juveniles does require a certain social skill set, some people have a knack for talent in that area,” he said.

Three Iowa City officials — made up of Councilor Amy Correia, police Officer Steve Fortman, and Marcia Bollinger, neighborhood services coordinator — visited the Davenport police in October to get ideas about what they could bring to Iowa City.

They presented their findings Monday night, prompting the council to formulate a wish-list of tactics to curb the recent violence without implementing a citywide juvenile curfew.

Other possibilities include implementing more comprehensive background checks on tenants and offering education seminars to landlords to help them deal with their potentially violent tenants.
The one-day training session is mandated for all landlords in Davenport, Correia said.

“We have a range of challenges with landlords in Iowa City,” said Mayor Regenia Bailey. “Just requiring a landlord to have this full day eight-hour course is something worth considering.”

As for changes to city’s background checks, tenants already undergo a similar process to check for any previous criminal activity. Councilors said they’d like to see the process become more comprehensive, though they didn’t speak in much detail.

The topic of violence on the South East Side of Iowa City caught the public’s attention after increased crime toward the end of last summer. Area residents asked the council in September to implement a juvenile curfew in response.

The curfew passed on its first consideration but took a turn when Councilor Mike Wright requested a deferral at the Sept. 29 meeting. The curfew will be revisited by the council on Dec. 1.

Though the neighborhood’s residents are working on ways to stop violent behavior without a curfew, some city officials think the crimes will continue.

“The violence will get hot again,” Hargadine said.


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