IOWA CITY - The first female director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation will be reassigned and the state's narcotics enforcement director will be demoted under a reorganization ordered by Iowa's public safety chief, department officials said Monday.
Chari Paulson will no longer run the DCI, where she became the first female director in its 92-year history when she was sworn-in a year ago. Instead, she will become director of administrative support and technology services for the Department of Public Safety under changes announced internally by Commissioner Larry Noble.
Noble has appointed department veteran Jim Saunders to oversee operations in all DPS investigative divisions, including DCI, Narcotics Enforcement, the state fire marshal and the intelligence division that Saunders already oversaw. Each division will be managed by assistant directors instead of directors in order to save money with lower salaries.
Under the reorganization, Narcotics Enforcement Director Steve DeJoode will leave his post and return to the field, becoming the division's special agent in charge in the Des Moines area. The division will be led by a new assistant director, Paul Feddersen.
DeJoode moves into a position previously held by Sean McCullough, who has been appointed chief of the Professional Standards Bureau, which investigates misconduct allegations. McCullough replaces Kyle Gorsch, who will return to the fire marshal division. The reorganization mimics a cost-saving plan that Noble put in place in January 2012 before stepping down as commissioner months later. His successor, K. Brian London, undid the changes in November 2012 after Gov. Terry Branstad hired him to replace Noble.
Branstad brought back Noble, a former trooper and Republican lawmaker, to lead the department in August after accepting London's resignation following a brief, scandal-plagued tenure. The governor said Noble would bring back "stability and predictability" to the agency.
Bright said the goal of the plan is to save money to allow the department to replace field staff positions that have been left empty. He could not say how much money would be saved or how many employees could be hired.
"Commissioner Noble's number one priority is to get more people into the field," he said. "When Commissioner Noble was here before, this is what he had in place. It's going to mean smoother operations and we're going to have more efficient and effective services."
Bright said that Saunders, 50, a former trooper, investigator and department spokesman, is a talented administrator who is well-suited to oversee the investigative divisions, which have a total of 380 workers. His salary will not increase.
Saunders said he would review the operations of each division, with an eye toward saving money by sharing resources and eliminating redundancies.
"I think there's a lot of potential for that moving forward," he said.
Under Noble's previous reorganization in 2012, Noble had demoted Saunders, then-DCI Director John Quinn and Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds to assistant directors and appointed Kevin Frampton to oversee investigative operations in their divisions. But after London replaced Noble, London quickly restored those jobs to director positions, reinstating Saunders and Reynolds and tapping Paulson to lead the DCI.
With the changes, several key department officials under London are either gone, demoted or in new roles. Reynolds stepped down in September and moved to a lower-level job.
London and Paulson are both named in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed by former agent Larry Hedlund, who contends that he was fired after initiating a pursuit with a speeding vehicle carrying Branstad and Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. A termination notice signed by Paulson says that Hedlund, a 25-year veteran who hadn't previously been cited for a disciplinary issue, was fired for insubordination.
Paulson, whose new position is not a demotion, said Monday that she would miss investigative work after 19 years with the DCI but supports the reorganization and is excited about overseeing the department's budget and use of technology. She said that during her tenure as DCI director, the division started initiatives to combat financial fraud and human trafficking, reorganized its work at casinos and cracked some cold cases.
"A part of me will miss some of that stuff," she said. "But I'm also extremely invigorated by the challenges that lie ahead and the progress we can make in the department."
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