Police Chief and Sheriff square off over proper protocol
Police chief and sheriff square off over proper protocol
By Kristen Johnson, Multimedia Journalist/ Weekend Anchor - bio | email
FONDA, Iowa (KTIV) Fonda's police chief has his radio back, after spending the weekend cut off from Pocahontas County dispatchers.
The Sheriff ordered the officer's radio communications with the county be blocked.
"My job is to protect and serve and it doesn't matter who, what ,when, or where,” said Fonda, Iowa Police Chief Alex Leu.
Leu is not only Fonda's Police Chief, he’s there's only full-time officer. So, when the blackout began Friday, Leu was livid. His radio channel shut off per sheriff's orders, Leu couldn't use it to call for back-up, or respond to emergencies.
"I don't know of an agency out there that would want to restrict rapid access to medical care, or keeping firefighters safe,” said Leu.
Sheriff Lampe said he way trying to prove a point.
"The whole problem has been Alex going out into the county responding to calls that he hasn't been called to respond to,” said Lampe.
As a certified EMT, Leu often responds to ambulance calls outside of Fonda, in his squad car. Lampe says that's lawsuit waiting to happen.
"That concerns me for officer safety, and also protocol, and also for liability reasons. If he's out in Laurens or out in the county on a call and something's happening in Fonda, who's covering it,” said Lampe.
Fonda’s mayor doesn't think resources are stretched too thin.
"In a small town, it's important all of your residents carry many hats,” said Don Wolf.
One of Sheriff Lampe's other major concerns is that a bulk of the emergency phone calls for Fonda don't even come into the dispatch center. Instead, the go directly to the Fonda Police Department and Leu’s cell phone.
“Fifty-five calls came through our office in the last year. There were 119 calls that went to his cell phone,” said Lampe.
"I say, 'you've got to call the sheriff's office,' but in the end we also have a local number that goes directly to me wherever I'm at,” Leu explained.
They came to a compromise after a heated closed door meeting inside City Hall, Monday night. Leu will continue to respond to EMT calls outside of Fonda in his patrol car, but will wait until he's requested before he responds to county deputy calls.
"This never should have got this far. It should have been settled before,” said Louis Stauter, a Pocahontas County Supervisor who sat in on the meeting.
Both agreed to work together better in the future.
Authorities say during the blackout, only Leu's radio channel was turned off, and that residents could still make calls for emergency assistance.
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