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DES MOINES — Don Schnitker, a special agent in the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation’s major crimes unit has been tabbed to head the recently created Iowa School Safety Bureau.
The bureau is charged with examining ways to keep Iowa’s schools safe, including from active shooter incidents. It was created by Gov. Kim Reynolds, who recently infused the bureau with $100 million in federal pandemic relief funding.
“Schnitker’s strong leadership skills and extensive law enforcement experience will be extremely beneficial for the bureau while utilizing innovative technology, providing training, and conducting intelligence monitoring,” Reynolds said in a state public safety department news release. “I’m confident the Governor’s School Safety Bureau will be a great resource for our schools and local law enforcement partners while helping to protect our most precious and valuable assets — our children.”
Schnitker has worked for the state criminal investigation division for 17 years, and assisted in the creation of the Iowa Child Abduction Response Team.
SUICIDE PREVENTION LINE: The 988 suicide prevention line launches Saturday, the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services announced. The 988 line is a national program overseen by the Federal Communications Commission.
Iowans who call or text 988 will be directly connected to counselors trained in crisis management and de-escalation, and who can connect Iowans to the services and supports that they need, the state department said.
“The national launch of 988 coincides with the significant work we’ve been doing here in Iowa since I took office to enhance and improve our historically fragmented crisis response system,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in the state health department’s news release. “Iowa families — all families — should have quick and easy access to necessary mental and behavioral health care resources when they need them, and 988 will serve as a centralized resource for Iowans to utilize during their times of need.”
The state health department also highlighted the state program Your Life Iowa, which provides at any time free support to anyone dealing with mental health care concerns, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, or problem gambling.
JUDGE CONFIRMED: Judge Stephen Locher, of Des Moines, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate to a lifetime appointment for as a federal judge in the Southern District of Iowa.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Locher’s confirmation was “rare” unanimous approval from the full Senate.
“Judge Locher represents the best and brightest of our legal community, and it was an honor to work with him throughout his swift confirmation process,” Grassley said in a news release. “Drawing on years of experience in both civil and criminal law, Judge Locher understands the proper role of a judge, and I’m confident he will enforce the law as written.”
U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, also added her praise and congratulations in the news release.
Locher has been a U.S. Magistrate Judge in the Southern District of Iowa since 2021, and previously he was an assistant U.S. Attorney in the district office. Locher graduated from Harvard Law School and got his bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame University.
GRASSLEY HONORED: U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, received the National Corn Growers Association’s President’s Award for his leadership and advocacy for corn growers and agriculture, the group announced.
“Sen. Grassley has spent his career advocating on behalf of corn growers,” Chris Edgington, the National Corn Growers Association president and a farmer from St. Ansgar said in a news release. “Whether it’s taking a stand on regulations burdensome to farmers, advancing agricultural exports through trade, or supporting legislation that will extend access to higher ethanol blends, we would not have secured the policy successes we have over the years were it not for the contributions of the senior senator from Iowa.”
Gazette Des Moines Bureau