(Video Pending Completion of request for records in accordance with Iowa Code Chapter 22)
Anxiety hits the shores of those it traumatizes like waves hitting a beach; some days, the tide is rougher than others. After speaking at the City of Newton, IA City Council meeting, I grabbed my bag and departed the podium. I looked up, and Chief Robert Burdess nodded at me, and I nodded back at him. I walked past the center of the room and greeted Jasper County, IA Supervisor Doug Cupples, and his eyes did not move as he continued staring through me while he said nothing as I walked past him. At that moment, I witnessed evidence of the difference between a citizen that has worn a uniform while serving others and someone I have not witnessed any evidence indicating has made that sacrifice. I will write a poem expressing my raw feelings about someone who has significantly impacted my life only after spending years producing an investigative work product that reinforces and echoes those feelings. I will not be the type of citizen that invests zero time and energy in civic responsibility and preservation that only drops disrespectful adjectives and dialog between Netflix streams against people that serve our community.
Language and the scope and depth of our communication manifest who we are. Suppose all we have to offer is a few short sentences that describe a law enforcement department as a bunch of scumbags. At the same time, those who speak that testimony has possibly performed zero work or investigation to reinforce that thesis to protect others; I believe this type of narrative reflects more on the author than the law enforcement department they are describing.
Jasper County, IA Supervisor Doug Cupples will most likely continue staring through me, hoping that I will go away until he realizes I am sitting in his lap at a Jasper County, IA Supervisor meeting. But, at the same time, I want to believe the reason Chief of Police Robert Burdess of the Newton Police Department, IA, nodded at me when I departed the city council meeting was not necessarily because he likes me personally or because he likes my jokes (which honestly is something we both can agree on regarding the quality of my humor), but because he respects that while I disagree with the historical operations of his department, I have adhered to the law and respected his position as this municipalities chief law enforcement officer in the City of Newton, Iowa – Government while I have questioned the historical evidence regarding the operations of his department.
While returning home with an anonymous citizen, I communicated this experience to them, to which they responded, “Maybe Chief of Police Robert Burdess is not the bad guy maybe he has to bow down to achey breakey too.” To which I replied, “Achey Breakey?” Leading to her response, “You know Nicholson, achey breakey heart.”
I want to believe Robert Burdess is a good man. During this evening, he certainly reinforced that with his non-verbal communications to me in the City of Newton, IA, City Council chambers. What disappoints me is that I wish Chief of Police Burdess would have done what was right and released the records I requested over a year ago as Jasper County, IA, Sheriff John Halferty did. At the same time, treating me like a human being and allowing me to talk to him in person as he indicated he provides other citizens during a Newton, IA Police Department recruitment video that was posted by the City of Newton, IA (I believe during Spring 2022)
In the end, I believe that the City of Newton, IA, and Jasper County, IA are places filled with good people that have allowed the reputations of their homes to be questioned because they have given the steering wheel to lawyers that evidence indicates do not manifest ethics befitting the profession that they hold.
Chief of Police Robert Burdess, I regret nothing I have said because it reflects how the evidence, in this case, has impacted my life. At the same time, I appreciate your chivalry toward me tonight and your service to the community. It is my hope that our cross paths motivate us to be better people as we strive to learn and evolve in our lives. At the same time, I hope we can sit down and finalize this situation honorably as two men in uniform. Spending over a year of my life involved in electronic-based communications with your city attorney and 5 minutes of simultaneous time this evening with him in the City of Newton, IA City Hall bathroom while I was fixing my hair so I would not disappoint Jasper County, IA Facebook Command Center operative Ryan Eaton is not how I planned to spend my retirement.
Michael J. Merritt
(1.) Freedom of Information Request – City of Newton, IA – #003 – 04 JAN 2022
(2.) Memorandum – Matthew Brick – Brick Gentry P.C. – 10 MAR 2022
(3.) Iowa Open Records Request – City of Newton, IA – #007 – 24 JUN 2022
(4.) Electronic Mail – Matthew Brick – Brick Gentry P.C. – 15 JUL 2022
(5.) Iowa Public Information Board – 22FC:0071 – Acceptance Order – 15 SEP 2022
(6.) Iowa Public Information Board – 22FC:0071 – Informal Resolution Order – 20 OCT 2022
(7.) Electronic Mail – Matthew Brick – Brick Gentry P.C. – 19 DEC 2022
(8.) Electronic Mail – Matthew Brick – Brick Gentry P.C. – 21 DEC 2022
(9.) Iowa Public Information Board – 22FC:0071 – Final Order – 19 JAN 2023
(10.) Iowa Open Records Request – City of Newton, IA – #028 – 03 FEB 2023
(11.) Memorandum – Matthew Brick – Brick Gentry P.C. – 17 FEB 2023
(12.) Electronic Mail – Iowa Public Information Board – 22FC:0071 – 27 FEB 2023
(13.) NPD Receipt – 21718 – 28 FEB 2023 – Open Records Release – City of Newton IA – #028 – 28 FEB 2023
(14.) Iowa Open Records Request – City of Newton, IA – #034 – Elimination of the Fog of War – #07 – 01 MAR 2023
(15.) Memorandum – Matthew Brick – Brick Gentry P.C. – 14 MAR 2023
(16.) NPD – Receipt – 21742 – 24 MAR 2023 – Open Records Release – City of Newton IA – #034 – 24 MAR 2023
(17.) Declaration and Evidence Supporting the City of Newton, IA’s Violation of Iowa Code Chapter 216 – 17 APR 2023
(18.) Declaration and Evidence Supporting the City of Newton, IA’s Violation of Iowa Code Chapter 22 – 24 APR 2023
(19.) Declaration and Evidence Supporting the City of Newton, IA’s Violation of Iowa Code Chapter 22 – 28 APR 2023