JOHNSTON, Iowa — Iowa native Josh Kennedy is stepping into the new role of community affairs coordinator for the Johnston Police Department.
"I'd like to be able to...look back and say, 'Hey, we were able to provide more opportunities for this or more follow-up care,'" said Kennedy.
Just a month into the job, he is meeting with community leaders hoping to form some key relationships.
"Trying to assemble some more people around me that can help and aid in what I'm trying to do--and we're all trying to do--and then try to run from there," he said.
Kennedy has spent more than two decades working with Iowa's youth, most recently, at the Johnston Community School District.
"My goal is kind of take that experience and...try to give that to the community a little bit more. So, help them engage, help provide access, be a bridge as well to between different people or community members or different entities around Johnston," he said.
According to Lt. Tyler Tompkins, who heads the department's support services division, said one of the main goals for this position will be to focus on mental health in Johnston.
"I want to make sure that while Josh is not a counselor and isn't going to sit there and counsel people for hours, he has the ability to continue [to] offer them services," said Lt. Tompkins.
Another focus will be building bridges with members of the community.
"Having someone that doesn't have that badge in uniform, that can go out and still help people--we want to help everybody in the community, not one type, not one color, we want to help everyone in the community," said Lt. Tompkins.
Kennedy said he hopes he can be a resource for officers as well.
"The officers and what they do is vital to what I do, really, and I'm hoping that I can reciprocate in kind," said Kennedy.