The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 10, 2013

Police chief candidates meet the public

(Continued)

"We have the best department I've seen in 25 years of doing this," McAndrew told the Courier. "We have the best [people] and a strong command staff."

He likes working with those leaders, deciding on the direction the department needs to go, choosing a goal with their assistance and then driving toward that goal. Right now, long-term strategies are difficult to decide on, he said. The department is currently short-handed. He had been Ottumwa's chief detective and supervisor of the anti-drug task force. He's added patrol commander and police chief to his responsibilities.

"It'll be nice to have a chief, whoever it is," he said.

If it's him, he wants to maintain the Ottumwa Police Department as a place that's rewarding to work at and where employees like coming to their job.

But if the city hired one of the other two? He's met them, he said, and after speaking with them, feels they'd be good chiefs, too. If one of them was appointed, they'll have good officers and a good, loyal command staff — which will include McAndrews himself, he said.

Jirak is a lieutenant with the Muscatine Police Department. He is also chief of the Nichols Police Department.

When he arrives in Ottumwa, he said, there's something very familiar to him: the demographics, the diversity, the community itself reminds him of Muscatine. It feels like home, he said. In fact, both communities face many of the same problems.

"The community is always first," he said Thursday.

That's why, to do his job, he feels a team approach is most effective. And that does not mean just a team of police officers — he will work with community leaders from the Hispanic population, from the faith community, business people and city department heads to solve problems. He'll be a member of that team. His style of "problem-related policing" requires an officer who has the ability to speak to all of those varied people and more.

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