Archive for  November 29th 2018

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DES MOINES, Iowa — On September 3, 2018 Des Moines police fielded calls that could put anyone on high alert.  “We had several people give us a call that they saw a young man walking the street and he was armed with a hand gun,” said Des Moines Police Sergeant Paul Parizek.

Police officer Andrew Weispfenning quickly responded at 40th and Douglass in the Beaverdale neighborhood.  On his body camera video you can hear Officer Weispfenning yell, “Drop it, drop it,” as he approaches the young black male holding the gun at his side.  Parizek said, “From our perspective you cannot tell if that’s a real gun or a fake gun and that can lead to some very deadly consequences.”

From the dash-cam video the juvenile appears to point the gun directly at officer Weispfenning.  “It was one thing to see the gun in his hand but it was another thing to see him actually extend that out at the officer,” said Parizek.

In the video, Weispfenning never fires his weapon.  He leaves his vehicle and the juvenile places the gun on the ground.  It isn’t until moments later that the officer learns the gun was a replica and radios into dispatch the gun is a toy.  “When you look at the gun later it looked about as real as the one on my hip,” said Parizek.

The choice to not fire is arguably one that others may not have made.  “That could have been deadly in an instant,” Parizek said.

Four years ago, Tamir Rice in Cleveland, Ohio wasn’t so fortunate.  Residents called on a juvenile with a handgun in the park, the officer shot and killed Rice.  In the twelve-year old’s hand was an air soft gun.  The controversial shooting is a hot button issue and was moments away from happening here in Des Moines.  Officer Weispfenning even had a teaching moment with the young juvenile, saying “what were you thinking, you pointed the gun at me? You could have been shot.”  A thankful lesson the police department hopes others can pay attention to, “You can hear him have a scolding tone with that kid.  Look this is how you get shot. I don’t think it was really soaking in,” said Parizek.

No charges were filed against the juvenile. Officer Weispfenning left the department the following month to pursue other opportunities.

FORT DODGE, Iowa — “Outsourcing to somebody who`s clear across the United States, I don`t think is really an answer,” said Mackenzie Conrad, a Webster County Dispatcher since February of 2017.

Conrad loves her job and she’s afraid she might lose it, if the Webster County Telecommunications Board decides to hire IXP Corporation to take over managing the day to day operations of the Webster County’s 911 dispatch center.

“They have said that we can reapply for our position, which to me, is just silly,” said Conrad. “If I already have the position, why do I need to reapply for this position type thing. but there’s no promise that you`re, we`re gonna get our jobs back with this company.”

Cory Husske,  Chair of the Telecom Board and also the Fort Dodge Assistant Police Chief, says there will be no reduction in the amount of dispatchers that are employed.

“IXP, has offered as part of their proposal, to absorb the current employees, should they choose to work for them,” said Husske. “They would go through their application process, essentially, they would stop being employees of the Webster County Communications Center and then what would happen is, they would turn right around and apply for IXP and be looked at as employees of their corporation.”

Husske says there are a lot of misconceptions out there in the public about the proposed change.

“Some of the rumors that I’ve been hearing are that people will call from in Webster County, for example, with an emergency and that somehow the call’s going to be routed through New Jersey, and then back through Fort Dodge, with some sort of a delay…” said Husske. “…That would be the first misconception. Everything is going to remain local here.”

Husske compares the situation to a local McDonald’s.

“The franchise is owned by somebody that`s local,” said Husske. “The employees are people that are local, and the pay scale is attributed to the local pay scale for that region.”

In fact, Husske says Webster County dispatchers could actually make more money under the new arrangement, if it’s approved.

“The actual location of IXP here would be managed by people from Fort Dodge, employed by people from Fort Dodge,” said Husske. “The jobs would stay here and actually their pay scale reaches higher than the current scale that they’re getting right now.”

But Conrad says if IXP takes over, she’s not sure she will even re-apply, and she says her colleagues might decide to leave.

“It’s going to be a tough decision,” said Conrad. “And, it’s going to be hard to come into work, to know that your job is potentially being replaced by somebody or someone else.”