Monday, March 2, 2009



Sergeant Sid Jackson refused breath test
and resisted arrest.

(March 2, Iowa City, IA) As far as “Big Ten” university towns go, Iowa City is at the very bottom of the heap. While every college town has a wealth of drinking and eating establishments, in most places they are counterbalanced by the presence of bookstores and other cultural enterprises. Iowa City proudly has none of that; it is just a one horse town that would be just another wide spot in the road if not for the presence of the University of Iowa.

The Iowa City Police Department is also at the bottom of the heap by any objective means a police department is measured. They are constantly proving themselves to be inept regarding anything akin to “real” policing. On the rare occasions a serious crime is perpetrated, the ICPD fumble their way through what they consider an ‘investigation’ and the actual solving of the crime is left to an almost as inept squad from the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigations (DCI).

The bread and butter for the ICPD are arrests related to collegiate drunkenness; public intoxication, public urination, illegal possession of alcohol by minors and of course, the big enchilada - drunk driving. So aggressive are the gung ho ICPD that drunken offenses are now the major revenue stream for the department. The hypocrisy inherent in this relationship between the captive drinking public and alcohol related arrests, fines, penalties and associated costs is laughable. The bars and restaurants that cater to the college crowd constitute virtually the entire “economy” of Iowa City and the ICPD is here to get their share.

On Sunday, February 22, 2009, the good people of Iowa City (and U of I students) awoke to the news that veteran Iowa City police officer, Sergeant Sid Jackson, had been arrested for drunk driving. This was welcome news given the fact that Sid Jackson has had a long deserving reputation as a “bad cop”, a very, very bad cop. Jackson was notoriously harsh if not abusive to drunk driving and public intox suspects.

The test now for the Iowa City Police Department , who have placed Sergeant Jackson on “administrative leave” pending an “internal affairs” investigation, will be in how this matter is adjudicated. The simple fact that Jackson was granted the protective status of an “administrative leave” and that there is even going to be an “internal affairs investigation”, are ominous signs that this matter will be quietly swept beneath the rug. The Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) laws in Iowa are strict and unambiguous: Sergeant Jackson should face the legal penalties any accused and found guilty drunk driver would face. Has he been ordered to undergo the mandatory substance abuse evaluation as prescribed by Iowa law? Has he even been official charged yet? These and many other questions demand public answers. Given Sid Jackson’s reputation, documented past on-duty behavior and other professional problems, this case should be followed closely.

Jackson has been a member of the ICPD for over 20 years having worked in law enforcement for 27 years. He is a graduate of the University of Lousiville-Southern Police Institute where he gained entry due to an affirmative action initiative. His academic performance while at the Institute was well below average in all areas of the curriculum and his psychological testing indicated a level of “instability” that did not portend well for whatever law enforcement agency was to hire him.

His tenure in Iowa City has been marred by scores of citizen complaints against him for being “over zealous” as well as “phsyically and verbally abusive”. He has been reprimanded for abuse of power, public brutality, conduct inappropriate for a law officer, public indecency, sexual harrassment, and professional misconduct. The ICPD refuses to this day to publicly reveal the circumstances by which then Lieutenant Jackson wound up demoted to Sergeant . The particulars of his demotion are closely guarded by his friends in the ICPD and Johnson County government. One long time colleague of Jackson, speaking not for attribution for fear of retaliation commented, “Sid was always bad. He is a bad cop, a bad person and, in some ways, a very dangerous guy. He has functioned almost with impunity all these years as a real, over the top, hard ass. Sid is an avowed racist. He could be very vicious and physical with the college students but was a real coward otherwise. I for one am glad he has been caught at something finally.”

Jackson was arrested by Iowa City police officers with assistance from officers from the University of Iowa Public Safety Department after he was seen sitting in his car with the door open at 3:54 AM on the 22 of February. According to records and eye witness accounts, Jackson had been leaning out of his running vehicle violently vomiting for several minutes on Muscatine Avenue before the first IC officer arrived. Jackson became belligerent and verbally abusive and, after back up officers arrived, he became physically violent. He fought savagely with the officers inflicting bodily injury to four of them. When he was finally subdued and hand cuffed, he refused to take a breath test. On the way to the police station he experienced urinary and rectal incontinence. Jackson continued vomiting, belching and hurling verbal insults at the arresting officers until he was escorted into the police station. “I was jogging with my spaniel and I saw a bunch of Iowa City cops dragging this big black guy into the stationhouse. They were having a difficult time controlling him although he was handcuffed, throwing up and seemed extremely drunk. I think that one of the officers maced him and I also think he was Tasered. It was a very disturbing scene”, stated Dylan Yoder, a junior at the University studying dance.

Iowa City is the county seat for Johnson County, a jurisdiction notorious for its multitiered criminal justice system. “Everyone knows there are different rules for different people in Johnson County courts. If you are a U of I athlete, you are treated one way, if you have money, you are treated another way and, if you don’t have money, you get treated another way,” commented Johnson County Public Defender Peter V. Bursaunt. “The judicial inequities in Johnson County are stunning”, said Byron Vander Phaltz, an attorney with the ACLU in Des Moines. Vander Phaltz continued, “Actually, the entire Sixth Judicial District which includeds Johnson County and Iowa City is rife with corruption, police and prosecutorial misconduct and a host of irregularities that warrant serious investigation by an impartial, unbiased task force. The travesties of justice perpetrated in the Johnson County Courthouse are legendary, blatant and constitute gross abuses of the criminal justice system.”

How the Sid Jackson case will play out is the concern of many. Given Jackson’s sordid past, many courthouse observers, Iowa City residents, and members of the legal community have expressed interest. “We’ll see how this goes down. I would speculate that Jackson will be forced to resign and I doubt he will be prosecuted as he should be. But, after all, this is Iowa City and Johnson County. Who knows, he’ll probably get a promotion”, commented Dr. Richard Hauser a local psychiatrist. Dr. Hauser added, “As far as I know Sid Jackson is insane, an alcoholic, a psychotic and a bed wetter. He belongs in prison.”

This is the first installment in our "Unsalted Earth" series.

Copyright TBC 2009 © All Rights Reserved

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