Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

CNHI/SE Iowa

May 10, 2013

Police officer wins appeal, discipline reduced

OTTUMWA — An Ottumwa police officer will not have a permanent stain on his record from his involvement in a collision with a garbage truck four months ago.

Officer Josh Kobes filed an appeal of his two-day suspension at an Ottumwa Civil Service Commission meeting Thursday afternoon, and commission members decided to reduce disciplinary action against him to a written reprimand, which will leave his record after one year. A two-day suspension would have remained on his record for the rest of his career.

Kobes was cited in January after colliding with a Bridge City Sanitation truck at West Main and South McLean Streets. He was responding to several calls of a drunken driver when he slammed into the truck in the middle of the intersection.

Attorney Michael Moreland, representing the city, and attorney Jill Hartley, representing Kobes, presented arguments regarding the circumstances surrounding the accident.

As video prior to and of the accident was played, Ottumwa Police Sgt. Chad Farrington described the scene. Kobes left the garage going east on Gateway Drive, picked up speed, secured his seat belt, turned onto McLean, put on his sunglasses, crossed the railroad tracks and dropped his gaze several times, looking for his microphone.

Throughout the approximately minute-long video, Kobes reached 63 mph on Gateway, 50 mph on McLean prior to the railroad tracks and was driving 31 mph when he collided with the truck.

"He said while he was traveling he thought there was something he needed to say and the microphone was not there, which is why he was down looking for it," Farrington said.

But it was Kobes' responsibility to make sure that microphone was secure and his seat belt and sunglasses on before leaving the garage, Farrington said. And with a 23-second wait for the garage door to open, he said Kobes "had ample time to locate his microphone and put his seat belt on."

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