Glenwood native Eric Johansen has been named police chief for the city of Glenwood.
Mayor Kim Clark’s appointment of Johansen was approved at last Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Glenwood City Council. Johansen, who was sworn into office immediately following his appointment, will be paid $24.28 per hour and serve a six-month probationary period.
Johansen, a sergeant on the Glenwood police force, was one of three applicants interviewed for the job, along with Lt. Mike Mercer and officer Trent Good. Mercer had been serving as interim chief since John O’Connor retired from the position last August.
Clark said all three candidates made strong presentations during their interviews with the mayor and the city council’s public safety committee. Clark described Johansen as a “good communicator” and “team player.”
“I think Eric’s pretty highly regarded within the public. The public support is there for him,” Clark said. “I asked for an application, a resume and a two-year plan. I will say that Eric went above and beyond that. We asked for the problems and he offered us solutions to those problems, and not just one solution, we have options to those problems.”
Clark said Johansen would continue o pull patrol duty in addition to his new responsibilities.
“We’ve always kind of talked in the past that we’re a small enough department that we need a working chief,” Clark said. “Eric has told us that he intends to be a working chief. He will still maintain patrol duties as well as administrative duties.”
Johansen said he became interested in the chief’s position as soon as he learned of O’Connor’s retirement plans.
“It’s always been an ultimate goal,” Johansen said. “When it was coming open, I felt like I could keep some of the community policing efforts going that Chief O’Connor had going.
“The one thing I learned the most from Chief O’Connor was how valuable your ties with the community are. You need to maintain that community policing and your connection to the public.”
Johansen said one of his first priorities as chief is making the department more accessible to Glenwood citizens.
“The No. 1 priority I have is availability, or accessibility, to the public,” he said. “I would like to eventually see our office open half a day over the weekend and later at night so that everyone has access to the administrative offices when they need to.”
Clark said she believes Glenwood has a “good department with good officers,” but sees a need for stronger community relations.
“The way it is now,” Clark said, “If you have contact with law enforcement, it’s ‘You’re the guy that wrote me the ticket,’ or ‘I’ve got to call you because somebody broke into my house.’ To me, that’s a negative light. We need more positive interaction.”
Another priority for Johansen is bringing back the department’s canine program.
“I would definitely like to see the canine program come back. I believe the program was terminated prematurely,” Johansen said. “It had invaluable assets as far as actual narcotics detection and public relations. It also acted as a deterrent to crime with people just knowing that there was a narcotics detection dog within the city limits.”
Clark said she would also like to see the program return, noting that she’s hopeful funds for the canine unit can be included in the city’s budget for the fiscal year 2010-2011.
Keeping equipment updated and providing on-going training for officers will also be high on the priority list for Johansen.
A 1991 graduate of Glenwood Community High School, Johansen owns an associate’s degree in criminal justice from Iowa Western Community College and has been an officer in Glenwood since 1996. Prior to joining the Glenwood force, he worked at a juvenile detention center in Omaha.
Johansen and his wife, Roni, have three children – Creightion (5), Rossalyne (3) and Audrina (2).