Public Safety

Civil service commission upholds Iowa City police officer's firing

Jody Matherly
Jody Matherly

IOWA CITY — The firing of an Iowa City police officer accused of driving drunk and lying about it has been upheld by the city’s civil services commission.

Commissioners unanimously affirmed former Police Chief Jody Matherly’s decision to fire Terry Tack, Iowa City Human Resources Administrator Karen Jennings confirmed Friday.

Matherly fired Tack Jan. 21, and Tack appealed his termination in February, arguing his dismissal lacked proper cause and sufficient grounds and was unreasonable and inconsistent with due process.

According to documents filed in Tack’s appeal, the former officer drank “to the point of intoxication” at three bars on Nov. 24, 2019, while off duty and then drove home.

Tack hit a utility pole in the 500 block of East Benton Street on his way home, damaging the pole and his Toyota 4Runner. He then left the scene of the crash, authorities said.

Documents state Tack enlisted another officer, Ian Alke, on Nov. 25 to help him write up a crash report, telling Alke he hit something with his vehicle.

Tack took Alke to the 500 block of South Governor Street, but evidence there was not consistent with the crash Tack described, Alke reported.

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Alke reported the crash report to Lt. Kevin Heick, who then reviewed calls for service from Nov. 24 and went to the crash on Benton Street.

Heick reported the issue to Matherly, Capt. Bill Campbell and Lt. Zach Diersen.

Diersen spoke with Tack, who reported hitting a rock on South Governor Street. The Iowa State Patrol was brought in to investigate.

Documents state Tack later admitted in an interview that he did not remember details of the night of Nov. 24, including how he got home or what he hit with his vehicle. He admitted his memory loss was due to drinking, the documents state.

The city alleged that Tack did not act with integrity, and Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said his actions would impact his credibility as a police officer.

The police department’s internal affairs investigation determined Tack violated numerous department rules and regulations, as well as city personnel policies.

Matherly announced his retirement earlier this year. El Paso, Texas, police Lt. Dustin Liston, an Iowa native, will become the city’s new chief in January.

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

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