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Iowa City hires new officer for downtown assignment

BY REBECCA MORIN | JANUARY 30, 2013 5:00 AM

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Whether it is a bite to eat or browsing for a new book, Iowa City’s downtown and North Marketplace serve families and students alike. With this in mind, officials note a safe environment is crucial.

With the beginning of a new year, a beginning of a new partnership with the Iowa City police and the Iowa City Downtown District has now established a downtown patrol position for police.

“One of the things we’ve been working on is to make downtown look more attractive and feel safer,” said Nancy Bird, the executive director of Downtown District.

Officer David Schwindt will patrol the area from Burlington Street to Pagliai’s Pizza, 302 E. Bloomington St. The officer will connect with local businesses to help with problems that may occur in the area.

“The patrol officer corresponds with businesses and just lends a helping hand to anyone who needs it,” Bird said.

The police added the downtown officer position after receiving a federal grant from Community Organization Police Services. The grant covers enough funding for two new uniformed positions, said Geoff Fruin, the assistant to the city manager.

“It is important to note that Iowa City Downtown District is funding part of the salary as well, though,” he said.

The salary for the downtown officer is $62,608, the same pay scale for all police officer assignments. Iowa City was going to provide funding for three years, but the district offered to help pay a portion for the funding.

“We really thank the Iowa City Police Department for supporting downtown and making it more inviting and safe,” Bird said.

Last week was Schwindt’s first week in the new position, and he said he’s started working on establishing relationships and collecting data from the businesses.

“I’ve created a form for myself, and my goal is to go business to business and ask what problems are occurring and what’s keeping away business and downtown as a whole,” Schwindt said.

He has worked in the department for 12 years, but he is still in the learning stages of his new position. He is still trying to accumulate data from each business. With the data, he will then be able to determine which days and what hours to work. He is currently working Tuesday through Saturday.

“The main questions that I am trying answer are: what are the big issues and how to address them,” Schwindt said.

Local businesses vary with what problems their establishment faces. Nonetheless, each problem is important and crucial to his work and data.

“The only problems we’ve faced are mainly pranking, like beer bottles being thrown,” said Nialle Sylvan, the owner of the Haunted Bookshop, 203 N. Linn St.

Business owners and Iowa City Downtown District officials are both reacting positively to Schwindt’s work and the new position.

“It can be dangerous, but I feel safer and glad to know that he’s there,” Sylvan said.


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