Racial Profiling Bill Stalls; Interim Study Likely

Mar 3, 2017

Racial profiling by Iowa law enforcement officers was the subject of a hearing at the statehouse this week though time ran out for a bill to address the issue. 

Instead, senators will request an interim committee to study how to outlaw taking someone’s race into account when a traffic stop is made.  

Banning racial profiling is a top priority of the NAACP.

This is a community crying out. -Betty Andrews

“This is a community crying out,” said Betty Andrews, Iowa-Nebraska president of NAACP.  “With racial profiling, sometimes that’s the gateway to the criminal justice system.”

Under the bill, an officer who makes a traffic stop based on someone’s race would be guilty of a violation of Iowa’s Civil Rights statute.  

There would be new analysis of data on race gathered at traffic stops.  

Also, detainees  would be presented with a form to file a complaint if race appeared to be behind the traffic stop.

This is a huge issue. -Sen. Brad Zaun

Susan Cameron with the Iowa Sheriffs and Deputies Association said she was uneducated on the issue until she attended a conference for chiefs of police of color.

“Until  I heard their presentation I didn't know what I didn't know,” Cameron said.  “And so I think we have officers who don't know what they're doing when they are discriminating.

“I do agree that we probably have a problem,” she added.  “That’s pretty clear.”

Lawmakers were moved by testimony at the hearing.

“I've learned more about this issue in the last 45 minutes of this subcommittee issue than I've learned my entire life,” said Sen. Charles Schneider (R-West Des Moines).  “I want to keep this going.” 

“This is a huge issue that I’ve had my eyes opened to,” added Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale).