July 20, 2017

Councilmen Jerry Fleshner and Michael Kots say City Hall should closely re-examine the hiring process for police officers in Carroll.

Fleshner, an at-large member who represents the full city, and Kots, the 1st Ward councilman, called for the review following the resignation Monday of a Carroll police officer in the wake of a Daily Times Herald investigation into the officer’s interactions with teenage girls.

“I certainly think it is worth looking into the hiring process,” Fleshner said.

Kots, a military veteran, wondered how the officer made it through the interview process and onto patrol.

“I’m concerned about the situation,” Kots said. “Hindsight is always 20/20. Looking back on the situation, I wish the thing would have been handled differently.”

The Carroll Police Department hired the officer, Jacob Smith, 26, in late 2015. Smith was fired in 2015 from his first police job in Sumner, his hometown in northeast Iowa, in part because of inappropriate private messages on Facebook he sent to a 16-year-old girl. The Times Herald reported Tuesday that Smith co-habitated in Carroll with a high school student.

“Whether it is legal or not, it is something I find inappropriate,” Fleshner said.

Fleshner added, “I think it shows poor judgment on the part of any adult.”

Kots said he has spoken to City Manager Mike Pogge-Weaver about city hiring procedures and plans more discussion. Kots said he hopes the city learns from what he termed a “mistake” in the hiring of Smith.

Councilwoman Misty Boes would not comment on the matter other than to say, “I have three daughters, so, of course, it concerns me.”

Councilman LaVern Dirkx said he planned to research the Civil Service Commission process before making any comment.

“I would like to know their policies and procedures,” Dirkx said.

Smith was the first officer hired under Police Chief Brad Burke. An appointed local Civil Service Commission is involved in vetting officer candidates as well.

The City Council appoints the police chief and regularly reviews the hiring of all police officers. New officers generally appear at council meetings for brief introductions when they are hired.

Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann declined to comment on what she termed a personnel matter. Councilman Clay Haley said he was asking questions about issues surrounding the story and planned to comment later.