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Black Iowa police chief faces backlash after bringing change

Joel Fitzgerald became the first Black chief in Waterloo's history when he was hired last year.

WATERLOO, Iowa — EDITOR'S NOTE: The video above is from May 24, 2021. 

A Black police chief in Iowa says his 15-month tenure leading a small city is a “case study” for what leaders face as they make overdue changes to improve policing and community relations. 

Joel Fitzgerald became the first Black chief in Waterloo's history when he was hired last year.

Mayor Quentin Hart credits him with helping usher in a transformation of the department that has been popular with residents and several changes to improve trust and treatment of citizens. 

But the chief and the mayor are facing blistering attacks from retired officers and a political group who say morale in the department is at an all-time low. 

Fitzgerald says the leaders are being targeted for unfair criticism because of their race.

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