Altoona Police Chief Jody Matherly recommended for Iowa City chief

City Hall
Photo by Drew Bulman

Jody Matherly, who has served as police chief in Altoona and Grinnell, Iowa, has been recommended as the new Iowa City police chief, according to a memo to the Iowa City Council. The council will make an official decision during its next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6, and Matherly would take over the role Jan. 23, 2017.

The memo, written by City Manager Geoff Fruin, praised Matherly’s commitment to professional development and community involvement, including engaging in a transparent way with both the public and the media to build trust in local law enforcement.

“He has a strong reputation as a visible presence in the community and has clearly demonstrated a commitment to developing and nurturing community relationships that build trust, open communication channels, and lead to collaborative community problem-solving efforts,” Fruin said of Matherly in the memo.

Jody Matherly -- photo via City of Iowa City
Jody Matherly — photo via City of Iowa City

Matherly has over 33 years of law enforcement experience, including over 13 years of experience as a police chief. Prior to his time in Altoona and Grinnell, Matherly served in the police department in Flint, Michigan. He has a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice and a master’s degree in interdisciplinary technology.

Former Iowa City Police Chief Sam Hargadine retired in July after 11 years as chief and is now the executive director of the Iowa Police Chiefs Association. Iowa City Police Captain Troy Kelsay served as interim chief until he reached the legally-mandated 90-day limit in September, when the position passed to Iowa City Police Captain Bill Campbell. Kelsay was also one of three finalists for the police chief position.

The search for Hargadine’s replacement has been ongoing since July, when the city hired Slavin Management Consultants to conduct a national search. From the original pool of 18 candidates, four semi-finalists were interviewed by committees made up of both community members and Iowa City staff and the three finalists selected at the beginning of November. The finalists attended a public meet and greet on Nov. 10 where members of the public could ask questions and provide feedback to Fruin.

“At the conclusion of the process I felt very confident that I had the information I needed to make a well-informed decision,” Fruin said in the memo. “I further felt that it was clear that Mr. Matherly is not only the best fit, but the right fit for the department and the community.”

There was some criticism of the search process and the resulting finalists — all white men — with members of the public voicing concern about issues of discrimination by law enforcement.

Fruin addressed these concerns in his memo, commenting that while the total number of applicants was smaller than anticipated, “there is good reason to believe that at least four of the eighteen applicants were of minority status. This belief is ascertained through disclosures in their application submittals such as memberships in professional organizations (e.g. National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives). Once the eighteen applications were received all applicants were held to the same standards through the review process.”

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