Search for a sergeant

MPD officers vying for chance to gain higher rank

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In the world of city policing, few positions are more pivotal than that of sergeant, and 15 Marshalltown Police Department officers are looking to take on the title and all the responsibility that comes with it.

“We’re going to have multiple sergeant and lieutenant openings over the next 12 months,” said Marshalltown Police Chief Mike Tupper. “We’re establishing an eligibility list for the position of sergeant; as the vacancies occur, we’ll have a list that we can draw from to fill those vacancies.”

The process of determining the best candidates for the position is still under way. A three-person panel from Cayler Consulting LLC conducted assessments on most of the candidates last week.

“This is probably the hardest transition in law enforcement, going from a line-level officer to a first-line supervisor,” said Cayler Consulting founder and owner Jeff Cayler, who is also the former police chief of Carroll and one of the three panelists conducting the sergeant assessment.

He said the specific needs of the MPD were taken into account for the assessment.

“It’s going to have a lot more value to you guys, as a community and as a police department, if we try to gear it more specifically to the city of Marshalltown and the Marshalltown PD,” Cayler said, adding the firm was involved in the hiring process of Marshalltown Fire Chief David Rierson and Deputy Chief Christopher Cross.

Fellow panel member and former Coralville police chief Barry Bedford said the sergeant position may be the most difficult within a given police department.

“You’re the interface between the line officers and the command staff,” he said. “You’ve got to really be that conduit, both ways.”

Oelwein Police Chief and Iowa Police Chiefs Association Board President Jeremy Logan rounds out the panel, and said different departments may have different needs for sergeants.

“It varies from each department, each community,” he said.

In Marshalltown, sergeants have multiple responsibilities, and Tupper said they must perform the duties of both officers and supervisory staff.

“They’re still on the front lines … doing the work, but they’re the conduit between the leadership team and staff,” Tupper said. “They still answer calls and cover beat assignments, but they’re responsible for training, they’re responsible for leading.”

He said the candidates’ scores will be taken into account when the department needs to fill a sergeant position in the near future.

“This is just one step in the process; the total evaluation of each candidate will include their work history and their training history and background, and their performance history with our department,” he said. “It’s a pretty extensive, comprehensive process.”

Tupper said he anticipates the next promotion to sergeant will come in the spring of 2018, when a current sergeant is set to retire.

“We do intend to fill that position, for sure,” he said.

MPD staff are taking no part in the panel’s assessment process, Cayler said. He added the panel is focused on giving unbiased feedback to the department.

“We have no preconceived notions, good or bad, about any of [the sergeant] candidates, they’re just candidates to us,” Cayler said.

For more information on the Marshalltown Police Department, visit https://marshalltown-ia.gov/290/Police-Department

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Contact Adam Sodders at (641) 753-6611 or asodders@timesrepublican.com