New police board in Waterloo

Pictured, from left, Waterloo City Clerk Mechelle Childers administers the oath of office to new police commissioners Sandy Sauget and Corey Zavorka during Monday’s Waterloo City Council meeting. A third police board member, Mark Yeager, was sworn in during a separate ceremony Tuesday morning at City Hall.  

Following the sudden resignation of all three members of the Waterloo Board of Police Commissioners just several days prior, an entire new board is now in place. 

The appointments by Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith of Mark “Yogi” Yeager, Corey Zavorka and Sandy Sauget to serve on the police board were all unanimously approved by the Waterloo City Council during Monday’s regular meeting. 

Zavorka and Sauget were sworn into office Monday night. Yeager, who was unable to attend the council meeting due to a previous engagement, was sworn in Tuesday morning at City Hall.

Per the City of Waterloo website, the police board “is responsible for testing, appointing, promoting, disciplining, suspending and discharging police department sworn personnel, except for the police chief. The board also conducts hearings on charges brought against a member of the police department.”

Police board members serve three-year staggered terms and meet as needed. 

As reported last week, prior police commissioners Norman Venable, Lonny Ludwig and Heather Garcia submitted letters of resignation on Jan. 20 and Jan. 22, respectively.

None of the departing commissioners offered public comment as to their reasons for leaving, although Garcia stated in her resignation letter to Smith – obtained via Freedom of Information Act request – that she felt “our ideals no longer align.” 

A separate FOIA filing revealed that a hearing requested by Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise on proposed disciplinary actions against Waterloo Police Officer Dan Pittman and Sgt. Eric Zaber – who have been away from active duty due to separate disability claims – was denied by the police commissioners in early January due to “lack of probable cause.”

Yeager said he was initially wary of accepting a request to serve on the police board but ultimately discussed the matter further and signed on for a one-year term.

Yeager stressed he is “not a yes man” and would not be a “rubber stamp for the city” on decisions during his service as commissioner. 

“I’m trying to make things right,” Yeager said. “I think we can provide the leadership going forward to make the right decisions.”

The former fire chief added that part of his decision to serve is because he wants to make sure Waterloo hires qualified police officers. 

“I think I’m a pretty good judge of character,” Yeager said. “Waterloo has been good to me. This is a way to help this community.”

Sauget, who was appointed to a three-year term, previously served as a Waterloo police commissioner before resigning as a result of her appointment to the position of Monroe County circuit clerk in 2010. 

Yeager said he expects Sauget’s prior experience on the board will help him early on. 

“She should be able to help lead us and offer some guidance,” he said.

Zavorka, who was appointed to a two-year term,  has experience in law enforcement through Tier I Tactical and the St. Louis County Police Department Special Unit and has led training sessions with local police agencies on school intruder drill and active shooter scenarios.

“I think he understands what to look for in an officer,” Yeager said. 

Pictured, from left, are Waterloo Mayor Tom Smith, Mark “Yogi” Yeager and Waterloo Police Chief Jeff Prosise after swearing in Yeager as a police board commissioner Tuesday.
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Corey Saathoff

Corey is the editor of the Republic-Times. He has worked at the newspaper since 2004, and currently resides in Columbia. He is also the principal singer-songwriter and plays guitar in St. Louis area country-rock band The Trophy Mules.
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