Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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July 7, 2012

Sullivan’s Salvos 7/10/12 In this edition: *Juvenile Crime Up in Iowa City? *Tiffin Fest *River Junction Tractor Ride *Iowa City Book Festival *Congratulations Mike Van Heel! *Did You Know? *Juvenile Crime Up in Iowa City? The Gazette recently ran a headline stating “Juvenile Crime Dips in State, Eastern Iowa”. The article then explains the successes of the Sixth Judicial District and the Cedar Rapids Police at reducing juvenile arrests. Read just a bit further, and you see that the headline should have addressed CR only, as numbers are up considerably in Iowa City. Sergeant Denise Brotherton, speaking for the ICPD, disputed the statistics, even though the numbers show a clear growth from 467 to 533. That is an increase of over 14% - an increase I would call significant! How is it that CR can see a decrease, while IC sees a 14% increase? Are kids somehow “worse” in Iowa City? Don’t we, the public, deserve an explanation? These are our children! Do we WANT them arrested? Why can’t we do what CR has done? The other – uglier - piece of the story is that black youth are being stopped and arrested many times more frequently than white youth in Iowa City. That was not mentioned in the Gazette article. When asked about racial disparities, the ICPD falls back on their usual statement: most arrests come from officers responding to a call. I do not dispute this, but I think it is a red herring, and needs much further review. First, what does “most” mean? Is “most” 51%, 99%, or something in between? Because the fact is, few white kids get stopped for walking in the street. White kids rarely get stopped for having their trunks ajar. White kids are not typically asked for ID 7-8 times PER YEAR. But black youth in Iowa City simply deal with this as a part of life. Whether the public is calling in reports or not, officers have discretion once they arrive on site. Why do one set of kids routinely get questioned, ID’ed and searched, while others do not? If you had a ratio of one officer for every car, and simply stopped and searched every vehicle, you would find that white, black, and Latino families commit crimes in pretty similar numbers. But when you stop black youth many times more frequently, you find evidence of misbehavior many times more frequently. Sergeant Brotherton says in the article, “It’s not about punishment.” That would be true, IF Iowa City had improved in the same way CR has. The best practices in this field are clear – just ask the Juvenile Court Administrators! They do not WANT referrals for minor infractions. So the approach described by Brotherton is simply WRONG. We should, and must, change! You may think I am somehow rude or disrespectful to bring this up. That is probably because the odds are you are white. And the odds are that you are not humiliated by the very people who are supposed to protect and serve you. A young man I know well recently told me that since he turned 16 (just over two years ago) he has been stopped by the ICPD 8 times. He has been asked to take a field sobriety test once, his car has been searched twice, and his ID taken every time. Yet he has never been charged with anything! So, fellow white folks – have you ever been stopped 8 times in just over two years? Have your kids? Has ANY white person you know ever undergone such harassment? To his credit, Chief Hargadine called me to discuss this. I don’t even know how he knew I was bothered by it, to tell you the truth, but I appreciated the call. I believe him when he says he is willing to review any/every incident to ensure that proper procedures are followed. The problem is, the ICPD refuses to look at anything as part of a trend. Each instance is viewed as a separate instance to them. So, a kid gets stopped. Big deal. That is not harassment. Of course not – unless you add context. That is always going to be the response so long as we look at things through a single lens. Remember, the young man I referred to earlier is not a career criminal. This is an 18-year-old kid – a good kid. Despite the 8 stops, he has never been charged! And the rest of the 18-year-old African Americans in this town can all tell you similar stories. Because collectively, they make up these statistics. Think I’m exaggerating? Look at our numbers for disproportionate minority contact. (They are “our” numbers. You and I bear some responsibility for them!) These statistics are a matter of public record. They are appalling. They smack of apartheid! The explanations we are being fed simply do not hold up. I am tired of excuses. We must demand better from the City of Iowa City. I hope the Gazette will follow up on the real story here. The ICPD is not a bad organization. They are the folks who protect us every day. The ICPD has been of service to my family and I in the past. I am certain they will do well by us in the future. But somehow, some way, things are broken in this area. I cannot explain why things aren’t working. But they aren’t working. I think we need to try to do better. Trust me, nothing will happen until you care about this issue. You need to call the City Council. You need to call the City Manager. You can make a difference! You need to let them know you refuse to accept this being done in your name. Because face it – if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem. *Tiffin Fest The booming town of Tiffin holds its 4th annual Tiffin Fest this Friday and Saturday night. A parade and street dance will be held Friday night, and Saturday includes a 5k, pancake breakfast, games, rides, a talent show, and even a rodeo! Those are only a few of the many things to do in Tiffin this weekend! For all the info on Tiffin Fest 2012, visit their website at: *River Junction Tractor Ride The annual River Junction Tractor Ride, sponsored by the Lone Tree Lions Club, will be held Saturday, July 14, leaving River Junction at 8 AM. There will be a break at Stutsman’s in Hills at around 8:45; lunch at the Kalona United Methodist Church; an afternoon break at Fairview Mennonite Church; and back to River Junction. On Friday, July 13 there will be a farmer’s supper and tractor show at 6PM at Walker Park in River Junction. The dinner is $12, and includes a variety show performed by the River Junction Theatre Group! (Not many villages of 20-25 people have theatre groups!) This is a great annual event, and definitely worth a look. To register or for more information call 319-629-5387 or 319-629-5296. *Iowa City Book Festival The Iowa City Book Festival is coming up Friday-Sunday, July 13-15. This is a great event, befitting a UNESCO City of Literature! I hope you’ll get the opportunity to check it out! For a full schedule of events, see: *Congratulations Mike Van Heel! Congratulations to Mike Van Heel of Iowa City, who is retiring after 30 years of service to Johnson County. Mike works for facilities, so he has spent the past 30 years moving snow, mowing, planting, weeding, and dealing with clogged toilets, stuck windows, and other assorted issues. I am pretty proud of the facilities owned by Johnson County; they function well and look good. This is thanks to the hard work of Mike and his fellow Facilities workers. In addition, Mike is simply one of the best guys you’ll ever meet. I’ll miss talking baseball with him. Congrats, Mike, and good luck on your retirement! *DID YOU KNOW? Tiffin, Iowa was named for Tiffin, Ohio – original home to some of the area’s first settlers. Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website- "Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents. These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned. If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line. If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line. As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you! ---Rod


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