Public Safety

Former Cedar Rapids police chief Greg Graham dies in Florida plane crash

Graham left after 4 years to lead the Ocala, Fla., force

Then-Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham checks email in his office at the Cedar Rapids Police Department on July 10,
Then-Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham checks email in his office at the Cedar Rapids Police Department on July 10, 2008. (The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Greg Graham, who became chief of the Cedar Rapids Police Department two weeks before the historic 2008 flood and stayed on the job four more years, died Sunday when the small plane he was flying crashed in Florida, according to news reports.

“Chief Graham had an immediate impact on the Cedar Rapids Police Department and Cedar Rapids community, helping guide rescue and response efforts to the Flood of 2008 when floodwaters overwhelmed the community from June 11-13” that year, the department posted Sunday on Facebook. “With a strong focus on community policing, Chief Graham initiated several policing programs including the school resource officer program during his time as Chief in Cedar Rapids.”

Graham had served on the police force of Ocala, a city in Central Florida north of Orlando, for 25 years before being hired as chief in Cedar Rapids.

About a year into the job in 2009, Graham told The Gazette more about his community policing philosophy, saying that “everybody’s got to do their part to make communities safe.”

“It doesn’t rest solely on the Police Department to make a community great. You just can’t throw it on the back of government,” he said. “ ... There’s going to be some pain along the way for everybody, for the department, the community, the business owners, the landlords. But if everybody is doing their part, this place will be great.”

After he resigned in 2012 to return to the Ocala force — this time as its chief — he was replaced by Wayne Jerman, the current Cedar Rapids police chief.

According to the Ocala Star-Banner, Graham was the only person aboard the single-engine plane Sunday morning when it crashed not far from an airfield owned by Marion County, the Florida county that includes Ocala.

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The newspaper said local and Federal Aviation Administration officials were investigating the cause of the crash.

Graham had recently obtained his pilot’s license, Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn told the Star-Banner. He said the chief enjoyed sky diving and scuba diving and had a fascination with flying.

The Ocala department posted a video Sunday on Facebook showing police flashing lights on their vehicles in his honor.

“We have had the great privilege to have called him a friend, a boss, and a part of our family for well over thirty years” the Facebook post said. “He was the heart of the Department. His heart beat for Ocala, for his community, for his department, and especially for his family.”

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