UPDATE: A news conference is scheduled today on the Safety Services Director Dan Trelka's status.
According to a news release from Waterloo City Hall, the joint press conference to discuss Trelka's status and future community policing will be 2:30 p.m. at City Hall.
WATERLOO --- Director of Safety Services Dan Trelka — who has overseen several missteps by officers over the past few months — has told some of his staff he has been asked to step down.
Neither Trelka nor Mayor Quentin Hart would publicly confirm the report last week but will hold a news conference at 2:30 p.m. in City Hall to discuss the situation and the future of community policing in the city.
News of the removal of the popular chief rippled through the community Friday and Saturday with many people expressing dismay and outrage Trelka is the fall guy for the department.
There were reports on social media a crowd will show up at Monday’s Waterloo City Council meeting to protest the decision. The council meets at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall.
According to sources, Trelka, 52, informed a small number of officers that he had been asked to leave, and that there would be no improvement in the department if he remained chief.
The police chief serves at the pleasure of the mayor. Hart, in his first term as mayor, was out of town Friday and declined to comment when reached, saying he would not discuss personnel matters publicly.
In recent weeks the Waterloo Police Department has come under fire over allegations of unfair treatment of black residents.
In July, the city finalized settlements with residents who brought use of force lawsuits and the family of a 13-year-old girl who was thrown to the ground and handcuffed. In August, the department began an internal affairs investigation into recorded remarks a patrol officer made disparaging a black teen killed
in 2013, and in September police disclosed another officer had been disciplined for striking and pulling the hair of a handcuffed black suspect following a chase and crash.
Several Waterloo City Council members contacted Friday said they were unaware of the move, including Steve Schmitt, chairman of the council’s public safety committee.
Council member Tom Lind, the committee’s vice chairman, said he received a phone call relaying a third-hand rumor Friday morning before the news broke.
You have free articles remaining.
“That was the first I heard about it, and it was just kind of a rumor,” Lind said. “I don’t know if he resigned or got fired.”
After the news was out, Lind said he received a phone call from Hart, who told him it was a personnel matter and Hart couldn’t talk about it with Lind.
Lind said he was troubled he and Schmitt weren’t approached for input.
“The two of us should have been at least been advised or asked for our opinion about making such a major change, and maybe the whole council should have been asked about it,” Lind said.
Council member Pat Morrissey, who like Hart attended a National League of Cities state conference in Des Moines last week, said he knew of no developments regarding Trelka.
In recent weeks, officers have been undergoing diversity training, and last week Trelka said he had been in meetings with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Community Relations Service.
Trelka was named Waterloo’s police chief in 2010, and he was appointed to the newly created position of director of public safety in January 2011.
A Wisconsin native, Trelka had served in the U.S. Marines and was a sheriff’s deputy in Weld County, Colo., before becoming a police officer in Sturgeon Bay, Wis., in 1992. He became the Sturgeon Bay police chief in 2003 and held that position until he was named Waterloo’s police chief.
Former Black Hawk County Supervisor and longtime neighborhood anti-crime activist Leon Mosley is one of Trelka’s staunchest supporters.
“I think he is a great police chief,” Mosley said. “He has sat in my yard. He has helped us with crime in the community personally. He’s out in the community, and he’s doing one heck of a good job. And it really upsets me that somebody asked him to leave. If he wants to leave, that’s a whole different story.
“The person that has asked him to leave, what has that person done in the community to make it safer and better?” Mosley said. Asked if he would feel the same if that person were the mayor, Mosley said, “I don’t think the mayor would do that. I hope he wouldn’t. They’re not going to find anybody that’s going to do a better job than he (Trelka) is doing.
“We have two blacks on the police force. Why?” said Mosley, who is black. “They are begging to get people. They won’t come.”
Meanwhile social media sites such as the Taking Back Waterloo page filled with comments in support of Trelka. A Facebook page We Support Dan Trelka was also started and had nearly 1,000 “likes” by Saturday afternoon.
Courier news editor Pat Kinney contributed to this story.