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The man who who has led the Cedar Falls Public Safety Department for the past seven years plans to leave the position early next year.

Cedar Falls Public Safety Director Jeff Olson announced his retirement Wednesday. He last day of service is scheduled to be March 11, 2022.

Olson has worked for the city in various capacities for more than three-and-a-half decades.

"It has been an honor to be part of such a great city for 36 years," Olson said in press release. "I have worked with many highly dedicated, educated, and trained professionals who have helped make Cedar Falls the great community it is. I wish the best to all my co-workers as I enter a new chapter of my life."

Olson was a police officer when he joined the local force on Feb. 3, 1986. During his years of employment with Cedar Falls Police Department, he has served as an investigator, a Sergeant, Captain, Assistant Director of Support Services and Police Chief.

The Upper Iowa University graduate was also a SWAT member and DARE instructor in Cedar Falls. Olson became a certified firefighter in 2005 and served on several boards during his career. He was appointed Director of Public Safety in July 2014.

Olson retired as Cedar Falls Police Chief in August 2020. Assistant Police Chief Craig Berte was promoted to fill the position. Berte was chosen by Mayor Rob Green over two other finalists.

The City of Cedar Falls began cross-training police officers as firefighters in 2005, the same year Olson became a certified firefighter. In 2020, the Cedar Falls city council voted to eliminate traditional firefighter positions under a department reorganization. City leaders decided then to fully implement a Public Safety Officer (PSO) program, which cross-trains police officers and firefighters to serve in either position.

The switch to a PSO program was -- and still is -- a controversial decision that has divided the city.

Two years ago, attorneys for the International Association of Firefighters Local 1366 filed a petition in Black Hawk County District Court in an attempt to stop city officials from appointing candidates with little firefighter experience to fire department leadership roles under the combined safety services department. The former Cedar Falls firefighters' union filed the petition in July 2019 in an effort to get those appointments overturned.

Last month, a judge sided with the union when he ordered the city to rewrite job qualifications for public safety leadership positions. The court denied the union's request to rescind six promotions.

Olson graduated from UIU with a bachelor's degree in business. He also graduated from the FBI National Academy.

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