Looking back on its accomplishments over the past year, the Fort Dodge Police Department is now looking to the future and looking forward to what's to come in 2013.
Chief Tim Carmody said the department had a very good year in 2012, and he attributed much of that to the staff.
"We grew as a department, and all of our staff made the difference," he said. "We had technology advances and improvements, but it's the staff I'm proudest of."
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Fort Dodge Police officer Donald McLaren gets ready to head out on patrol in one of the department’s SUVs. Officers in the department have a variety of high tech tools available to them to do their jobs including computers in their vehicles.
Included among those staff members are a number who received promotions in 2012. Chuck Guthrie was named lieutenant, and Matt Lundberg was promoted to sergeant. In addition, Joelyn Johnson was named the department's school and community resource officer.
Carmody said the police improved on its relationships with other departments and the community.
"We were able to hold two Citizen's Academy classes last year," he said. "Those wouldn't be possible without the partnerships we have with all those agencies. Because of those partnerships, there are now 40 liaisons for public safety in the community."
Those professional partnerships with agencies including the Webster County Sheriff's Department, Iowa State Patrol and Webster County attorney's office also allowed more opportunities for training in 2012.
"We tried to provide up to 32 hours of training per member of our department," he said. "They're trained on how to use equipment and handle crime scenes, but we've also offered leadership classes so officers can have more opportunities."
Most of the department also received training in the pursuit intervention technique, which is a way for officers to stop cars involved in high-speed chases. Carmody said that training couldn't have happened without the Iowa State Patrol and Sheriff's Department, as well as the Fort Dodge Regional Airport, which was used as the training area while it was closed for renovations last summer.
Officers also held an active shooter drill at St. Edmond High School in August, which Carmody said is a very important tactic officers need to know.
"The Sandy Hook shooting tragically reminded all of us why that training is important," he said.
He added officers are trained on using the tools they have more efficiently.
Carmody said the department also bought a new SUV to serve as a command vehicle.
"We've also made upgrades to aging equipment, as well as made software enhancements," he said. "We're also anticipating new patrol vehicles in the future."
Carmody said that will be a change for the department since the Ford Crown Victoria, which is the model for all the department's patrol cars, is no longer manufactured.
Though the department had many accomplishments in 2012, Carmody said that didn't mean there weren't any challenges.
"We've had several technology challenges, and the end of the Crown Vic has created challenges for us too," he said. "We've also had to deal with the transition of personnel."
The departures of officers has led to policy changes, according to Carmody.
"We've redefined our selection process to continue to find the best people for the job who can provide the best quality service," he said. "We're also working on succession planning and are challenging our staff to take on projects and finding solutions on their own."
As for this year, Carmody said he's excited about the future.
"We're going to be building on the foundation that we've set," he said. "We're expanding relationships we've had in the community, and we'll continue to work on training opportunities."
"We can have all the technology resources we need, but unless you have top quality-trained people using them, they're paperweights," he added. "We use the resources we have to make sure citizens' tax dollars are being used responsibly."
Carmody said the department will also be expanding its efforts in the community regarding crime prevention.
"If everybody works together, we'll have 20,000 sets of eyes looking out for crime instead of just 40," he said. "That sends a crystal clear message to the people that commit crimes that their actions will not be tolerated.