BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Changes are coming fast at the Fort Madison police department.
Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber, serving as interim police chief since June 1, and members of his staff are already looking at new computers in the department and in the vehicles, as well as adding three full-time officers.
Lee County Chief Deputy Will Conlee said today the department held regional testing on Saturday with the hopes of adding three full-time officers to the department before the interim period ends.
“They were slotted for 19 officers and they need to be at 20, but right now they’re at 17 so we’re going to work to fill those three spots,” Conlee said.
The city is currently working with a search firm to find a candidate to fill in for Tim Sittig, who retired from the office on May 31.
The Fort Madison City Council and Lee County Supervisors approved a 28E agreement in May that put Weber in as interim chief. As part of the agreement, the city is paying the county roughly $50,000 over the six month term. Without having a chief in place, the funds come from the salary that would have gone to Sittig.
City officials are hoping to have a new chief in place sooner than the six month agreement.
Conlee said eighteen people applied for the regional test and 10 showed up.
“They started with the physical agility test and we lost half because they couldn’t meet the physical standards. The five that did pass that portion were taken back to the sheriff’s office and they were given the standard written test that all law enforcement officers take,” Conlee said.
The written tests were sent off to a company to be independently scored and those that pass will be part of future civil service interviews.
Conlee said, due to the sheriff’s department overseeing police operations currently, the interviews will be conducted this time with city and county civil service commission members. Typically one or the other does the interviews to keep the mandated list of 10 candidates on file.
At Tuesday’s regular city council meeting, Weber told the council they need to extend the police department to 20 officers and with that staff they had structure in place that would put three officers on the street for each shift, including two full-time investigators.
He also told the council that computer systems in the department were outdated and needed to be replaced as well as providing all vehicles with onboard computers.
The sheriff’s department outfitted their vehicles with onboard computers last fall and Weber said the efficiencies created with the new systems allowed more time for deputies on the streets instead of doing paperwork.
Authorization of the new computers could be in front of the city council by its next scheduled meeting on June 18.