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Police, community happy with Southeast substation

BY NINA EARNEST | JANUARY 21, 2011 7:10 AM

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Iowa City police hope to continue to develop programs through the Southeast Side substation, though officers say it’s too early to judge the facility’s role as a crime deterrent.

Officer Jorey Bailey, the only full-time officer at the facility, said future plans include creating a volunteer corps based in the substation. The new group will be composed of community members working at different hours of the day, he said.

“Hopefully, in the future, people will be here more often than we’ve had in the beginning,” Bailey said.

Jan. 1 marked six months from the start of the substation’s lease. The Iowa City City Council approved signing the commercial lease for the property in July and the department moved into Pepperwood Plaza — near the Highway 6 and Broadway intersection — in September.

Funding for the substation came from a Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, the Iowa City Housing Authority, and the police drug-seizure fund.

Iowa City police Sgt. Denise Brotherton said establishing the substation was in part a reaction to juvenile crime and other neighborhood disputes in the area during 2009.

However, no statistical data are available yet to review the effectiveness of the substation in crime prevention, Bailey said. Officials are expected to examine crime numbers next summer and again before the lease expires in the summer of 2012 to determine the necessity of renting the space.

“It’s still so new it’s hard to measure,” Brotherton said.

The substation’s real test will come in the summer months when students are out of school and more people are active outdoors, she said.

Bailey said he takes various walk-in reports, which are transferred to patrol officers throughout the day. The station also serves as a base for police officers on foot and bike patrols in the area.

Brotherton said earlier in the week, a Pepperwood Plaza business owner approached the beat officers about troubles he was having with a group of juveniles. The officers’ availability resulted in their quick arrest.

“We’ll just be more accessible to people living down there,” Brotherton said.

The neighborhood response toward the substation has been positive, Bailey said.

Sue Freeman, the director of the Broadway Neighborhood Center, said she has heard little community response about the substation itself. But Freeman said Bailey, who attends local events and knows area teenagers, is a “familiar face” in the neighborhood.

“He’s certainly an officer in the neighborhood who folks like to see around,” Freeman said.

The substation includes a meeting space to serve as a space for community presentations.

Organizations such as the Cub Scouts and Crime Stoppers Board of Directors are using the facility, Bailey said.

Brotherton said at this point there are no plans for the substation to be affected by upcoming budget cuts in the Police and Fire Departments.

“We hope that is something we can hang onto,” she said.


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