Public Safety

Cedar Rapids police Sgt. Al Fear to run for Johnson County sheriff

Al Fear
Al Fear

IOWA CITY — A veteran Cedar Rapids police sergeant and leader in the fight against the opioid epidemic has announced his plans to run for Johnson County sheriff.

Al Fear, 47, a Democrat from northern Johnson County, said Thursday he plans to run for sheriff.

Johnson County Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek announced earlier this year he will not seek re-election in 2020.

Sgt. Brad Kunkel, a detective with the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, also has announced his plans to run as a Democrat for sheriff.

Fear has spent 25 years in law enforcement, including the last 20 with the Cedar Rapids Police Department, where he is a patrol sergeant. Before that, he was with the Coralville Police Department.

Fear said his love for law enforcement lies in being able to help people.

“The bottom line is I really love Johnson County,” Fear said of his decision to run. “The main reason why I want this job as sheriff is I want to help the most people I possibly can.”

Fear’s career has spanned virtually every aspect of law enforcement. Fear has worked in patrol, investigations, as a field training officer and as a narcotics K-9 officer for approximately a decade. He’s also worked in training and community outreach.

Fear is best-known for his work with the Eastern Iowa Heroin Initiative. In cooperation with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Fear traveled the state hosting town hall meetings on the opioid epidemic and helped connect addicts with treatment. He also helped craft legislation related to the opioid epidemic, including an expansion of the state’s prescription drug monitoring program.

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Through the initiative, Fear founded CRUSH — Community Resources United to Stop Heroin — a support group to assist those struggling with addiction and their families in finding resources. There are now five CRUSH chapters across Iowa, including in Johnson and Linn counties.

“Through that program, we were able to help hundreds of people across the state,” Fear said.

Fear counts the continued fight against the opioid epidemic as one of his campaign goals. He proposes a three-pronged approach of preventing people from abusing opioids, finding treatment for those who are addicted and prosecuting drug dealers who bring the drugs into the community.

A second priority is a more aggressive approach to addressing human trafficking. Fear said Interstate 80 is a “large funnel” for both human trafficking and narcotics.

“I’d like to see the sheriff’s office take a more proactive stance on the issue by having a dedicated task force” that would find trafficking victims, as well as traffickers, Fear said.

Fear said he also wants more counseling resources for inmates leaving the Johnson County Jail in order to reduce recidivism. Fear said he wants to identify the root causes for why inmates are committing crimes — such as a lack of job, child care or substance abuse — and have resources available to them at the jail.

“Whatever their needs are, I’d like to be on the front line to offer them resources as they leave the jail,” he said.

Fear has an associate degree in criminal justice from Kirkwood Community College and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership from Fort Hays State University.

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The filing period for county offices is March 2 to March 25, 2020. A primary election would take place June 2.

Comments: (319) 339-3155; lee.hermiston@thegazette.com

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