The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Posts Tagged ‘Police Chief Greg Graham’

Police Chief Graham says Cedar Rapids has too few black police officers; recruiting officers of any race difficult these days, he says

In Neighborhoods, Police Department on April 9, 2009 at 5:19 pm

Police Chief Greg Graham says the 200-officer Cedar Rapids Police Department should have more than three black police officers.

The matter came up Thursday afternoon as Graham took an hour’s worth of questions on a wide range of subjects from the editorial staff and from reporters at The Gazette.

The question about black police officers was posed in the wake of an assault on a Cedar Rapids police officer by three black youth, an assault that has left the officer in the hospital in guarded condition and has increased the city’s police presence in neighborhoods with larger black populations.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday, too, the city’s Civil Rights Commission is sponsoring a forum at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in the Wellington Heights Neighborhood to discuss criminal violence and neighborhood police presence.

The diversity of a city’s police force, the chief said Thursday, should “mirror” the diversity of the city, and three black officers, he said, is too few for a city like Cedar Rapids. The shortage of black officers is something he noticed early on after assuming the chief’s job in June 2008, he said.

The U.S. Census in 2000 put the city’s black population at 3.7 percent, and a census estimate in 2006 put that figure at 4.9 percent. For the Police Department’s makeup to match the city’s racial makeup, the department should have 9 or 10 black officers.

Prior to coming to Cedar Rapids, Graham had been deputy chief in Ocala, Fla., where he worked for a black police chief. But when asked if he had any network of contacts that might help in the recruitment of black officers, he said he wasn’t sure he did.

“The lack of minority officers is something we’re trying to address,” Graham offered.

But, in fact, he said it was difficult to recruit police officers, period, no matter what the race. At the same time, the current economic downturn might make public-sector law enforcement look more attractive to potential recruits, he said.

Graham said the department will be hiring a new recruit class in the months ahead, with training for that class set for summer. He said he would be willing to take questions about the racial makeup of the class at that time.

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Brick’s Bar & Grill finds soft spot at City Hall; council asks police chief to negotiate if he turns up nothing beyond shaky liquor license application

In City Hall, Downtown District on April 8, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Brick’s Bar & Grill, 320 Second Ave. SE, got some sympathy from the City Council last night and may be able to renew its liquor license.

The bar’s owner, Jade Hronik, stumbled into problems with the Police Department for, as Police Chief Greg Graham said last night, not being truthful on her liquor license application.

Graham cited three specifics on the license renewal application in which Hronik, who signed the document, did not report her own prior intoxication arrest and the felony arrests in 2006 of two others connected to the bar.

In her own defense, Hronik noted that she purchased and renovated the downtown Brick’s after the June flood, and that she had correctly filled out paperwork in September on the bar and for another drinking establishment in the city.

She said her license renewal application at Brick’s was incomplete, not untruthful, and she said she had not paid sufficient attention to it but had another person handle it.

Council members Tom Podzimek and Monica Vernon asked Graham to look at Hronik’s earlier liquor applications and see if they, in fact, supported Hronik’s position.

Council member Brian Fagan asked Graham if he would be willing to meet with Hronik, if all else is in order, to see if he can create a consequence for the untruthfulness short of a license denial. Graham, who said consequences are important, said he would be willing to do so.

In any event, should the council ultimately deny a license to Brick’s, the bar can stay open as it appeals to the state’s Alcohol Beverages Division. Appeals can take up to a year to resolve.

The Police Department in recent weeks convinced the City Council to block the renewal of a liquor license for The Tycoon, which is just down the block from Brick’s. The Tycoon, which did not move to renew its license in timely fashion, now has a probationary license and has agreed to better police its bar customers in an agreement with the Police Department.

There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s the police chief; just ask The Tycoon tavern

In City Hall, Police Department on March 30, 2009 at 11:09 am

The Tycoon tavern in downtown Cedar Rapids has been tangling with the Police Department of late.
Part of it is timing: The liquor establishment at 427 Second Ave. SE needed to renew its liquor license just as still-new Police Chief Greg Graham has decided to knuckle down on taverns that generate too many police calls.

The Tycoon erred, firstly, by not filing for the license renewal in a timely fashion. The city rule is that an establishment needs to make an application at least 30 days in advance to give the city regulators and, most importantly, the Police Department enough time to review the renewal application.

The Tycoon did succeed two weeks ago in getting the City Council to make an exception and put the tavern’s expedited request for a license renewal on the council agenda for discussion.

In the council discussion, though, Police Chief Greg Graham unveiled his new thinking about taverns in need of an alcohol license that also are in the habit of attracting police officers to their establishments.

Upon hearing that police were called to the bar 17 times this year — and the bar was open only a couple evenings a week — the council denied The Tycoon any special treatment. The bar closed — including for the nice revenue-producing day of St. Patrick’s Day — for a couple weeks until the Police Department could review the tavern’s license in the timeline set out in city policy.

The review is complete and The Tycoon now is open under what the Police Department calls a six-month probationary license.

The conditions of probation are … well, they are designed to modify behavior.

For instance:

The Tycoon must pay $2,875 to the city for the 23 hours of investigative work required by the Police Department to determine that The Tycoon didn’t deserve a new liquor license because of the number of police calls to its establishments. That’s 23 hours at $125 per hour.

The Tycoon must have an “adequate number of appropriately trained personnel,” as approve by the Police Department, at all times. The staff should wear identifying shirts that say staff or security. This staff is there to check identifications, to make sure fire-code occupancy limits are followed, to prevent serving people already drunk and to prevent loitering outside the establishment.

The Tycoon should consider a dress code, a cover charge and the use of an electronic metal detector.

The Tycoon shall implement an action plan to immediately reduce the number of police calls for fight, disturbances, assaults, weapons, intoxication, drugs and public urination.

Within six months, The Tycoon will seek to reduce the number of police calls to the tavern to no more than one a week.

During the first month of reopening, the Police Department will bill The Tycoon $125 an hour for any police call over two a week, and after the first month, The Tycoon shall pay $125 an hour for any call over one a week.

The tavern also will pay a $63 “prisoner cost” for each arrest made at the bar.

Police Lt. Tom Jonker told the City Council last week that The Tycoon’s owner, Tim Bushaw, had agreed to work with the Police Department to reduce police calls to the tavern in exchange for a new probationary liquor license.

“The chief is adamant,” Jonker said on Monday. “It’s a privilege not a right to sell alcoholic beverages, and you need to be a good business person and do the right thing and fix errors and correct things that are wrong.”

On April 8, the City Council will hold a public hearing on the liquor license at Brick’s, a downtown bar down Second Avenue SE from The Tycoon. The Police Department is recommending that a new license be denied to Brick’s.