WATERLOO — Crime in the city was down for a third straight year in 2017, according to numbers released Tuesday by the Waterloo Police Department.
Calls for service handled by the department fell about 3 percent, from 54,641 in 2016 to 52,759 last year.
“The Waterloo Police Department has implemented effective community policing strategies, and we are a department of dedicated, hardworking professionals. We are going to further refine our strategies for 2018 to further effectively deal with a small group of individuals who are committing our most violent crimes,” Police Chief Daniel Trelka said.
City officials said the crime numbers were the lowest in decades, and Mayor Quentin Hart said he was pleased.
“The numbers tell the story: Waterloo is a safe community where crime is low,” Hart said. “Proactive public safety is a continuous process of adapting, responding and adjusting to what is happening in the culture. Some of what worked a few years ago no longer works today. We will continue to implement innovative solutions to make sure our officers are prepared and equipped for the next challenge.”
According to the statistics, Group A offenses — about 30 serious crimes — dropped 8.1 percent over the prior year, and Group B offenses — disorderly conduct, trespassing and other minor crimes — decreased 2.16 percent.
Total index crimes — murder, robbery, rape, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny and auto theft — were down in 2017, from 2,214 reported in 2016 to 1,919 last year.
Of the index crimes, aggravated assault saw the largest decrease, a 40-percent drop from 321 reported cases in 2016 to 191 in 2017. Rape dropped from 39 to 30, and robbery dipped from 61 to 54, according to the numbers. Burglary was down from 634 to 547, and larceny went from 1,021 to 943.
Murder was one of two crimes in the index group to increase, doubling from three in 2016 to six in 2017. One involved a murder-suicide, and police arrested a man for murder charges in the death of a child, but the remaining slayings remain unsolved. Auto theft also increased, from 135 to 148.
DES MOINES — Delivering her first Condition of the State speech Tuesday, Gov. Kim Reynolds was upbeat as she declared Iowa remains strong “because our ability to dream is infinite, and the will of our people is great.”
While her major theme was tax cuts, Reynolds also used the annual report to a joint session of the Iowa House and Senate to address the “destructive force” of sexual harassment and problems in the management of the state’s Medicaid program.
Reynolds praised women who have found the courage to speak out about sexual harassment. That would seem to include a former Republican Senate staffer who won a $1.75 million lawsuit settlement last year that involved claims of sexual misconduct.
“Everybody is awakening to (the fact) it’s time to fix this, and we’re certainly doing our part here,” House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, R-Clear Lake, said. In the wake of the lawsuit settlement, the Legislature has hired a human resources officer who will start later this month.
The governor raising the issue is helpful, Senate Minority Leader Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, said, “but we’ve yet to see any policy changes in the Senate that will make our environment more welcoming, an open, safe place.”
Reynolds laid out her agenda for tax reform, including an end to federal deductibility, a thorough review of tax credits and an immediate focus on individual rate reductions.
Iowa tax code allows filers to deduct what they pay in federal income taxes from their state income taxes. Reynolds wants to get rid of the provision because federal tax cuts approved in Congress will leave Iowans with fewer deductions and result in some filers paying more in state taxes. Ending federal deductibility while cutting rates is meant to simplify income taxes and save Iowans money overall.
Reynolds also proposed an initiative to expand broadband access in rural Iowa, a public-private effort to increase the number of Iowans with 21st century workplace skills, an expansion of mental health services and efforts to combat the growing problem of opioid abuse.
Reactions to her policy proposals fell predictably along party lines. Republicans welcomed her call for lowering individual income tax rates.
“We need to make sure those dollars end up in taxpayers’ pockets,” Upmeyer said. “We’re not going to have the state hanging on to dollars that were intended for taxpayers.”
Democrats were less optimistic.
“I don’t know how you cut taxes when we can’t even balance our budget now,” said Rep. Mary Mascher, D-Iowa City. “All I see is more cuts.”
Addressing the controversial transition from a state-run Medicaid program to a privately run system similar to that in 39 other states, Reynolds allowed mistakes have been made.
However, it was “a change that needed to be made” to stem the rising cost of providing health services to more than 600,000 low-income Iowans, many of them children or elderly.
She conceded the projected savings of $47 million is far less than estimated when Branstad made the change nearly two years ago.
However, she said, the Department of Human Services director she hired “has the passion, and — most importantly — the compassion to make this work,” and the state’s new Medicaid director has the experience “to get things turned around.”
“I think her commitment to solving some of our health care problems is one of the most inspirational things in her speech, because we’ve all been hearing about the challenges that we’ve had facing us,” Upmeyer said.
Mascher was more cautious, but promised Democrats will “fight tooth and nail to make sure that we can get adequate funding for both our health care system and our Medicaid system as well as our mental health system.”
Reynolds also proposed partnering with the private sector to expand education and training for Iowa workers. Today, she said, just over half of Iowa’s workforce has training beyond high school. Reynolds wants to increase that to 70 percent.
Her plan calls for legislative approval of the Future Ready Iowa Act and $500,000 to expand programs like the one at the West Delaware school district in Manchester that teaches high school students vocational skills that lead directly to jobs in their communities.
Reynolds also included $1 million in her proposed budget to expand apprenticeship programs.
The governor offered to use state dollars to match private investment in an Iowa Employer Innovation Fund for training programs that best fit the needs of business and industry.
Acting Lt. Gov. Adam Gregg will lead an initiative focused on reviving rural Iowa because, Reynolds said, “the heart, soul, and spirit of Iowa will always remain in our small towns and rural communities.”
The goal is to promote investment by expanding broadband capabilities in every corner of our state in order to “keep and bring home Iowa’s sons and daughters and grow the next generation of community leaders,” Reynolds said.
It was a historic speech for Reynold, 58, who became the state’s first female governor in May when Gov. Terry Branstad resigned to become the U.S. ambassador to China. In closing, she returned to the positive themes she used to open her speech.
“I believe that Iowa is — and ought to be — a place where, if you’re willing to work for it, you can make your dreams come true,” she said. “My vision is to give the people of Iowa a place to call home that unleashes opportunity at every turn.”
She called for building a “future where our ability to dream is infinite and the will of our people remains eternally unbroken.”
WATERLOO – A former University of Northern Iowa quarterback was shocked with a Taser and arrested after he allegedly refused to remove his pistols or leave the Isle Casino Hotel on Monday night.
The man became uncooperative with officers and refused to give his name to police and court officials but was identified by authorities as 28-year-old Tirrell Donte Rennie. He was arrested for interference while armed, a felony, and misdemeanor trespassing after he wouldn’t leave the hotel and indicated he would become aggressive if he was detained, according to court records.
He remained in the Black Hawk County Jail as of Tuesday morning. During an initial appearance in the jail courtroom, Rennie refused to identify himself or respond to the judge and began to walk away before deputies redirected him, according to court records.
Judge Linda Fangman found him in contempt for refusing to answer questions, and he was sentenced to 180 days in jail. Fangman also raised his bond on the interference charge from $5,000 to $100,000 cash only.
Rennie — who arrest reports show has a Waterloo address and also indicate he is “homeless” and who told police he was from Florida — played for the UNI Panthers football team in 2010 and 2011. He had lived in North Lauderdale, Fla., and played for Ellsworth Community College before coming to UNI, where he majored in criminal justice, according to the UNI website.
According to police, Rennie had a permit to carry weapons. Sheriff Tony Thompson confirmed the permit, issued in February 2015, was suspended Tuesday morning pending the outcome of charges from the Monday night incident.
Rennie had rented a room at the hotel, police said, and around 8:10 p.m. hotel staff called Waterloo police after someone noticed one of Rennie’s holstered handguns while he was in the establishment’s lobby area. Police said Rennie was asked to place his guns in his vehicle or leave the hotel.
“They asked him to leave, he said no. They asked him to put it in his car, he said no,” said Capt. Joe Liebold with the police department.
After about a half-hour of refusing to leave or stow the firearms, Rennie was told he was no longer allowed on Isle property, but he refused to leave, according to court records. Rennie, who was described as being calm during the encounter, allegedly told officers he would become physically aggressive toward the arresting officers — Leibold said he told the officers he could easily hurt them — and he was Tasered and placed in a squad car, records state.
Police said Rennie was carrying a .40-caliber Springfield handgun and a 9 mm Smith & Wesson handgun. Leibold said at least one of the weapons didn’t have a magazine in place, but it wasn’t clear if it had a round in the chamber.
In his hotel room, police found a rifle. Leibold said the rifle wasn’t functional because it was missing the bolt.
It wasn’t the first time police seized a firearm from Rennie. On May 1, 2016, Waterloo police were called shortly before 1 a.m. to a report of a man who had allegedly made threats to harm himself. They found Rennie inside a vehicle in a parking lot in the 3700 block of Sager Avenue outside the apartment complex where he lived at the time, Leibold said.
Rennie was taken to Covenant Medical Center for an evaluation, and officers found a .40 mm Springfield pistol in the vehicle. The weapon was seized for safekeeping.
No charges were filed, and in November 2016 Rennie went to court to reclaim the gun. A month later, a judge ordered the gun returned because Rennie had no felony or domestic violence charges that would preclude him from possessing guns, and prosecutors said the pistol wasn’t part of a pending criminal case.
Sheriff Thompson said his office wasn’t notified about the May incident. He said carry permits are good for five years, and deputies review permits when they are notified of possible issues, but his office doesn’t have the capacity to continually review each permit each day after the permits are issued.
After learning of the May incident Tuesday, Thompson said he reran Rennie’s background check and said the May incident wouldn’t have affected his permit standing.
Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission rules prohibit firearms in casinos, said Ross Loder, the Iowa Department of Public Safety’s bureau chief for weapon permits. He said nothing in the Omnibus Gun Bill passed by the Legislature in 2017 changed the rules.
As for non-casino areas of a hotel, the 2017 law also did nothing to preclude private property owners from barring weapons on their grounds, he said.
“Any private property owner, it could be a corner convenience store or a grocery store or a bar or any kind of business … the owners could establish a prohibition and terms and conditions for the presence of a person at the facility,” Loder said. He said if a person carries weapons contrary to those terms, it wouldn’t be a weapons law violation or a permit issue, it would be a trespass issue.
At UNI, Rennie was a dual-threat quarterback who made big plays with both his arm and his legs.
In 2010, Rennie became the first UNI quarterback to rush for 1,000 yards in a season with 1,291 and 15 touchdowns. He also passed for 1,543 yards and eight touchdowns, was named Missouri Valley Football Conference Newcomer of the Year and earned second-team All-MVFC honors while leading UNI to a 7-5 season and a playoff berth.
In 2011, Rennie again led UNI in rushing with 1,061 yards and nine TDs and passed for 1,802 and 14 scores on a 10-3 playoff team that also featured future NFL star David Johnson. Rennie was a first-team all-MVFC quarterback that season.
Prior to transferring to UNI, Rennie was a two-time All-America pick at Ellsworth Community College where he passed for 2,863 yards and 23 TDs, while rushing for 1,025 yards and 10 TDs as a senior. He broke the school record for total offense in one game with 557 total yards (460 passing and 97 rushing), set the single-season total offense record with 3,888 yards, accounted for 73 touchdowns and over 7,300 yards of total offense while setting 13 school records in a two-year span and led the nation two years for in a row in total offense.
Sports editor Doug Newhoff contributed to this report.