EVANSDALE | Police Chief Kent Smock has left his fire chief duties to focus exclusively on law enforcement, including the hunt for those responsible for the deaths of two young cousins.
Smock had been serving jointly as the city's police and fire chief for three years. He resigned as fire chief and is taking a month of vacation before returning full-time as police chief.
"I no longer felt I could commit the time needed to both positions, and it was in the best interest of the city for me to step away and 'pass the baton' to the next generation to move the fire department forward," Smock said in an email.
Smock has served in the city's fire department for nearly 40 years and was appointed chief in March 2002. A retired Black Hawk County Sheriff's deputy, Smock was appointed police chief in March 2012.
Since July 2012, he has been leading the investigation into the deaths of Lyric Cook-Morrissey, 10, and Elizabeth Collins, 8. The cousins disappeared July 13, 2012, and their bodies were found by hunters Dec. 5, 2012, in the Seven Bridges Wildlife Area.
The case remains unsolved.
"Since taking the police chief's position, I have dedicated countless hours to the citizens, department and particularly trying to solve this case," Smock said. "I have refused to take time off, and that too has caused added fatigue and stress to me personally.
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"I have decided to focus my energies solely upon the police department and this case," he added. "However, to try and gain a new focus I felt I needed to get some time away and renew my energy and drive."
Smock said he met with Mayor Doug Faas and the two agreed he should take the vacation time he's neglected since becoming chief.
Faas said the city would begin searching for a new fire chief.
Smock said he believes those who will succeed him in the fire department will be well trained.
"I will miss the interaction I've had with my neighbors while serving as the fire chief, as well as the satisfaction I've received helping my friends and neighbors," he said. "I have enjoyed my time serving my community with the fire department."
But Smock said he expects to return from vacation motivated to "focus 100 percent on the duties as police chief, which includes focusing on bringing justice for Elizabeth and Lyric."