Monona considers adding reserve police officer

Jo Amsden was sworn in as Monona’s Police Chief at Monday night’s city council meeting. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

Deputy Brian Berger, who was hired in March, also took the oath of office at Monday’s Monona City Council meeting. (Photo by Audrey Posten)


By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times Editor


Jo Amsden was officially sworn in as Monona Police Chief at Monday night’s city council meeting. Amsden replaces Robert Pope, whose resignation was accepted at the previous council meeting. Deputy Brian Berger, who was hired in March, also took the oath of office.


Amsden thanked the council for considering her for the position. She also took the opportunity to request a reserve police officer for the Monona Police Department.


Amsden said both she and Berger will usually be on call on Sundays, while one or the other will be on call other days of the week. Some days, she said, she might end a shift at 2 a.m., then have to be back out at 8 a.m. to make sure kids get safely to school.


“We’re all getting older,” she said. “It’s hard on our bodies.”


She said having a reserve officer would be nice if either she or Berger is sick, wants to take a vacation or needs to go to training.


Now, when the department needs additional help, particularly on weekends, Amsden said the Clayton County Sheriff’s Office provides a reserve officer. Amsden questioned if it would be easier for the city to hire and pay a reserve officer directly, rather than having to pay the county. Plus, added Berger, it would also guarantee coverage.


“We’re just not able to get officers anymore,” he said, mentioning that he couldn’t get coverage for two recent weekends. “They’d rather work the road for the county than work in town.”


Amsden and Berger said having their own reserve officer would also be more helpful for Monona.


“It will give the officer experience in the community,” Amsden said “They’ll gain the respect and trust of the community and help maintain security in town.”


“They’re not here,” Berger said of the county reserves. “They don’t know what’s going on in town.”


The council was initially reluctant, but warmed to the idea.


 “Monona isn’t going to be policed 24/7,” said councilman Dan Havlicek, who was worried about the city taking on the liability of another officer.


“It’s not going to happen quickly,” added councilman John Elledge. “I understand the need and I agree with you that it’s a need. I just want to understand the urgency.”


Amsden said Berger has training coming up within the next few months, so she would like to have something in place by then.


Following discussion, the council gave Amsden the go ahead to take applications for a reserve officer to work 20 hours per week.


Berger also informed the council that the police department recently received an automated external defibrillator (AED) from the Veterans Memorial Hospital Foundation to be used in their police cars.


“I didn’t know anything about it,” Berger said of the donation, mentioning that, along with the Monona Police Department, the group also outfitted the Allamakee County Sheriff’s Department.

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