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Toledo Council rescinds Code Red opt-out vote

March 7, 2013
By Jimmy Gillispie - Staff Writer , Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

Joe Boll and Kendall Jordan may have convinced the Toledo City Council to opt back into the CodeRED program, but with one stipulation.

City council members want answers.

The five members of the city council want to know what happened July 12 when an escaped convict in Waterloo headed to Tama County. The CodeRED wasn't activated that day to alert Toledo residents, which was the primary reason for the council voting unanimously to end the service at its Feb. 11 meeting.

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After a lengthy discussion on the CodeRED system at the Feb. 25 meeting, the council rescinded the motion from the previous meeting. Along with that, the council is requesting Ryan Currens, Tama County Emergency Management and E-911 director, attend the March 11 meeting to address issues with CodeRED before the council votes to continue or opt-out of the program.

"Kendall and Joe talked to me about this and there was a lot of stuff I didn't realize," Council Member Terry Goodhart said. "I was wrong on a lot of my assumptions. Kendall and Joe straightened it out for me."

After hearing of the Feb. 11 decision, Boll and Jordan wanted to speak to the council. Boll, Toledo Fire Chief, and Jordan, assistant Toledo chief and 2nd District member of the Board of Supervisors, were granted their wish last Monday. (Boll also is chair of the Tama County E911 Board.)

Boll told the council the CodeRED system was used three times during the past year and those calls amounted to approximately 1,700 of the alloted 4,560 minutes.

"I have done some checking, because I didn't know this was coming up for discussion," Boll said. "All I know is what I read in the paper. I understand that there were some questions about it and some of the questions I can attempt to answer and some I can't. I can tell you this, those 4,560 minutes can be used any way the City of Toledo determines how to use them.

"I think we need to look at this and understand it is ours to use, no matter what we want to use it for," he added. "The bottom line is the fire department and I assume police, too, don't have the manpower to go door-to-door and notify people in a time of emergency or crisis. I think for $1,300, I think we should have it."

From there, the conversation went from the basics of the CodeRED program to the July 12 incident. On that day, an escaped convict broke out of custody in Waterloo and headed south to Tama County. The escapee stole vehicles and robbed Medicap Pharmacy in Toledo.

Local law enforcement officers wanted the CodeRED system activated to notify Toledo residents that an escapee was in Tama County. However, they were unable to do so and no one will tell them who denied the request.

"Nobody will say," said Jeff Filloon, council member and Tama Police sergeant. "I've asked several times and it just gets passed around."

Toledo Police Chief Bob Kendall said he was off duty that day, but found out one of his officers tried activating CodeRED. Kendall said his officer was denied. This news didn't sit well with council members or Boll.

"I didn't even know that we requested it," Boll said. "If we requested it and it was not used, that's malarkey, because those are our minutes. It's not someone else's decision whether those should be used. I can assure you that part can be taken care of."

Boll did tell the council that he has tried to investigate what happened on July 12. He was told that law enforcement didn't want it used after the convict escaped custody in Waterloo. When he enquired as to what law enforcement agency, he was told Blackhawk County.

Council Member "Elmer" Skip Wilson heard the same thing and he also disagreed with the decision.

"On that robbery, I heard that it was a Blackhawk County sheriff," Wilson said. "He was headed to Tama County and he stole like three cars down there. They should have put it out. My neighbor leaves his garage door open. What good did it do? Blackhawk County sheriff don't run Tama County. To me, it's like we were covering for him so it wouldn't get out in the media that a prisoner escaped. That's where I had a problem with it."

Boll responded, saying anyone with responsibilities with the City of Toledo can activate the CodeRED. He also said that the city can't rely on other counties or law enforcement agencies to do it.

"It's got to come from us," he said. "They are our minutes to use. If we feel that we need to let our citizens know there's a guy stealing cars, that's up to us. It's not up to somebody else."



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