Public Safety

What They're Thinking: Derek Frank on new role as Iowa City Police Department's public information officer

Sgt. Derek Frank is the new public information officer for the Iowa City Police Department. (Photo via City of Iowa City)
Sgt. Derek Frank is the new public information officer for the Iowa City Police Department. (Photo via City of Iowa City)

IOWA CITY — There’s a new face of the Iowa City Police Department.

Earlier this month, Sgt. Derek Frank took over as the department’s public information officer, a position previously held by Sgt. Scott Gaarde, who rotated out of the position. Hired on July 31, 1998, Frank has served in numerous capacities for the department. In addition to 12 years working patrol on the late night shift, Frank has been a field training officer, bike officer, active shooter response trainer and sergeant on all three patrol shifts. He has been a member of the department’s Special Response Team and now serves as assistant team commander, was the department’s first neighborhood response officer and is the coordinator for Project Lifesaver, which helps find people who have a tendency to wander, such as those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Now, Frank is learning the ropes of his newest role.

Q: Why were you interested in this position?

A: Once I got promoted, I found myself enjoying the administrative and behind the scenes aspects of supervision. I figured this would give me the best opportunity to learn that side of it.

Q: What are your duties beyond being spokesperson for the police department?

I’m still trying to figure that out myself. I compile reports of statistics for various sources. Anything from officer activity to stats on bar checks and curfew violations ... OWI statistics, deer accidents. CrimeStoppers stuff comes through this office.

Q: What are your goals as public information officer?

I just want to become very proficient at this job. If I’ve been in a position long enough, I usually understand it enough to tweak it and just make it really efficient ... And, I want to become more proficient with the use of social media to figure out how we can use that to get information out to the public in a timely manner.

Q: What role does social media play in bridging the gap between the police department and the community?

I think it just makes us more accessible. I think that’s the goal with it, to make us more accessible. It happens to be the way people communicate on a daily basis, multiple times a day. I think we should be engaged with people in the community in the way they communicate.

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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