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Citizen's Police Academy: Week 9

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2, FOX 28) -- FOX 28 and CBS 2 continue to give you a weekly look behind the scenes of the Cedar Rapids Police Department with the Citizen's Police Academy.

This week, we're learning about the Internal Affairs Division. They provide oversight for the department, and are key in building trust with the public.

You don't have to go that far on YouTube to find them - video after Video from cities nationwide of alleged police brutality and misconduct.

Whether founded or unfounded, the public perception created by these incidents often furthers that gap of trust between police and the public.

"We are no different than anybody else, we make mistakes," says Lt. Brent Long with the Cedar Rapids Police Department. "Hopefully they're not real serious mistakes...but we'll own up to them"

It's Lt. Long's job to look into misconduct incidents locally for CRPD - essentially policing the police.

"I know there are two sides to every story," he says. "I don't always know that I get the story straight the first time...I have to do a lot of investigation to get that."

That investigation starts with a complaint, and those complaints keep Long busy.

"We have complaints all the time, every day I get a complaint...they swore at me, they didn't treat me good."

Weeding out the founded from the unfounded can take some time. It requires interviews from witnesses, victims, and the officers themselves. A so called 'early warning system', which tracks past complaints, also helps.

"If an officer's name keeps popping up, or an employee's...we know something isn't right," Long says

Long says a good amount of the cases go unfounded. After gathering the facts, which could take 2 to 3 months, the information is presented to the man at the top, Chief Wayne Jerman.

"They investigate them completely, and forward the results of the investigation to myself," Chief Jerman says.

He says he knows how important maintaining trust is. With shootings breaking out in the area recently, he's depending on the public for information. However, he knows respect and trust is a two way street.

"The community needs to know and believe the police department acts appropriately and ethically."

Long tells us CRPD is currently considering body cameras for officers. As a part of his job in internal affairs, he says he's doing research on the constitutionality - such as how the cameras can be used when officers enter a home.

Next week, we head out to the shooting range to see the tools officers use in the fight against crime. Join us every Thursday night on CBS 2 and FOX 28 for the Citizen's Police Academy.
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