The MPD deserves our praise

In my column in Sunday’s edition, I noted the news of the past two months in Marshalltown has dominated the headlines locally and around the state. Newspaper articles, TV coverage, radio reports and social media have focused more than its share of attention on these sad and horrifying stories.

What hasn’t been covered, at least in my estimation, is the exemplary job the Marshalltown Police Department has done in conducting these investigations, gathering information and in EVERY case, apprehending those responsible.

We sometimes forget that, unlike most TV cop dramas, conducting and solving a homicide investigation takes a lot more than an hour.

What may be remarkable, specifically with the most recent homicide in Marshalltown, is that the efforts of the MPD, thanks to countless hours of hard work, years of training and intuition, led to the capture of the suspect after only four days.

And I emphasize the word ONLY, because four days is a blip on the radar. Police interviewed dozens of witnesses, acquaintances, family and friends, quizzing them for information as to the suspect’s whereabouts. A similar case in Ottumwa – the suspect eluded authorities for 19 days until he was captured near St. Louis, Mo.

Police work, as Chief Mike Tupper told me, is not an exact science.

It is often time consuming, painfully frustrating and emotionally taxing.

Those emotions were evident last Tuesday when the MPD had surrounded a house on the north side. Working with credible information, Marshalltown’s SWAT team and other law enforcement stood their ground, waiting for the right opportunity to make their move and apprehend the suspect.

After nearly a half-day, they made their move, but the result yielded no arrests and according to our reporter at the scene, officers were clearly dejected.

What that tells me is that these officers have a passion for their work, a passion for protecting the community and a desire to get the job done.

And at the MPD, you’ve got exactly that. You have dedicated public servants who work tirelessly every day, 365 days a year, to protect the community they too call home.

Ask Chief Tupper and he’ll tell you there’s no finer group of officers and staff around. They work to curb criminal activity, address citizen concerns from the benign to the most serious.

Now, is there a crime problem in Marshalltown?

In light of the last two months, it would be easy to say yes.

The truth, as I said in yesterday’s column, is that the issues we face as a community impacts every community in this country – drug abuse, domestic abuse, mental health – those issues directly led to the incidents we’ve witnessed recently.

But let’s also be clear, the problem does not lie at the feet of the MPD; it rests with every one of us.

As a community, as a society, when will we decide that underfunding mental health care will no longer be accepted? When will early intervention efforts become the norm, and not the exception when it comes to domestic violence. And instead of incarceration for minor drug offenses, what about alternatives in terms of treatment and rehabilitation?

Those debates won’t go away unless we’re willing to use some of the same passion our officers have for their jobs.

The philosopher, Aristotle, noted that “The law is reason, free from passion.”

Nothing against Aristotle but I want passion from those whose mission is to enforce our laws, whose efforts make me feel safe at night.

And to the men and women of the MPD, if you ever had any doubts about how most people feel about you in this community, know that we stand with you shoulder to shoulder and will back you up every time.

Contact Jeff Hutton at 641-753-6611

or jhutton@timesrepublican.com