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Supports law enforcement response

July 18, 2012
Bryan Schultz, State Center , Times-Republican

I read with concern the recent letter regarding the police response at the scene of the tragedy at the Iowa River.

I am not privy to the priorities, decision-making and training of the officers at the scene that day, nor was I there. But I am friends with officers from multiple law enforcement agencies that were at the scene who described the situation in a very different way. Since they cannot speak for themselves or defend themselves publicly, I felt compelled to attempt in some small way to explain a few things as they were explained to me.

1.There were efforts to transport the family to an air conditioned location. A cool shelter WAS provided after some initial attempts at transportation failed.

2. Understand people react in different ways. Communicating with someone with a language barrier is exceedingly difficult - add in the hysteria and grief of the scene and it would be nearly impossible. And have you considered what some of these officers are dealing with in the aftermath of the recovery of three young children?

3. The walk down the bike path, over the levee and away from the scene protected both the parent from potentially seeing something horrible and allowed the crews to more fully concentrate on the search - including being able to hear calls of distress, if there were any.

4. State Center's police chief was not the only outside officer to assist that day. Multiple agencies from two counties helped. These other agencies provided help with emergencies in the Marshalltown area, crowd control, sweeping the river banks, dragging the river and much more. This is common practice in any tragedy or emergency that requires a lot of manpower and coordination.

5. If you have concerns, that's great: But did you wait until an appropriate time to ask about what happened that day or present your concerns to the Marshalltown police chief? If you were concerned with State Center providing assistance, did you ask our chief what he was doing there? If you ask and get no answers or an unsatisfactory response, using the media to hold our officials accountable is a good idea. But using the media first to drum up more anguish without knowing all the facts seems to be counter-productive and makes our officers' jobs even more difficult.



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