IOWA CITY — When he was 16, Johnson County Detective Sgt. Brad Kunkel got a job at a gas station frequented by law enforcement officers. It was then he knew he wanted to be a cop.
“I really looked up to them,” he said. “They were proud of what they did, they respected each other and they were respected. Up until then, I didn’t have any good male role models, and I decided then that’s the path I want to walk.”
Now, a sheriff’s deputy of 18 years, Kunkel is setting his sights on becoming the Johnson County sheriff, given that Sheriff Lonny Pulkrabek announced this week he would not seek a fifth term in 2020.
Kunkel, a Democrat and former Solon City Council member, joined the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office as a jail deputy in 2001 and joined the patrol division five years later.
In 2013, he was promoted to patrol sergeant and last year moved to investigations.
During that time, he earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Iowa in political science and religious studies.
Kunkel said he has three issues he plans to focus on during his campaign.
The first is domestic violence.
It’s an issue close to his heart, Kunkel said, “given some of the stuff I saw when I was a kid.” He also lost a sister to domestic violence.
As sheriff, he would like to devote more time to helping victims of domestic violence.
“I want to create our own protocol for domestic violence cases because I think we can do more for victims — we can do more to build stronger cases, and we can do more to keep them safe,” he said.
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He wants to work with other area agencies to build a task force that specializes in the forensic examination of electronic devices.
“Right now, we rely on other agencies to do a forensic download of a cellphone or a computer,” he said, which leads to long waits.
He’d like to see more forensic work done within the department, which would require training and likely the purchase of equipment.
Finally, Kunkel wants to maintain support for and help grow the county’s jail alternatives programs.
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