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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
In Iowa, no-knock warrants are only granted or allowed under "exigent" circumstances. However, the state has not completely banned the practice
Iowa has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.
Military style training
Iowa has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage.
Iowa has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
Iowa has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture.
Iowa state law prohibits the quotas and requirements for ticketing: "A political subdivision or agency of the state shall not order, mandate, require, or in any other manner, directly or indirectly, suggest to a peace officer employed by the political subdivision or agency that the peace officer shall issue a certain number of traffic citations, police citations, memorandums of traffic violations, or memorandums of faulty equipment on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or yearly basis."
Cost of misconduct
Iowa has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Iowa has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering.
Objective justification for stops
Iowa has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description). However, the City Council of Des Moines passed an anti-racial profiling ordinance in late June. The Ordinance bans "discriminatory pretextual stops" made by police officers.
Pending Legislation: HF 356, introduced in February 2021, prohibits officers from racially profiling suspects and institutes training requirements to identify and work to eliminate common causes of racial profiling.
Reporting stop details
Iowa has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). The state does collect data about stops broken down by race and gender, but uses it for internal law enforcement training.
Reckless civil rights violation
Iowa has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
The Iowa State Legislature passed an initiative in June 2020 to allow the State’s AG office to investigate police misconduct rather than county attorneys.
Iowa has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity. In fact, qualified immunity has been upheld and expanded by the Iowa Supreme Court (Baldwin v. City of Estherville).
Mental health response
In Iowa, police officers and administrators in the State have joined a national initiative, the Stepping Up Statewide Conference, "which encourages county sheriff departments to pledge to reduce arrests and incarcerations of people with serious mental illness". Police officers and other first responders around the state have undergone training that will better equip them with the skills and tools to more effectively engage in situations with an individual dealing with mental health issues. The training is conducted by the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). The goal is to help officers better connect with such individuals. Locally, in December 2020, Iowa City's City Manager presented 34 community policing reforms to the City Council. The reforms focus on preventing, diverting, co-responding, and stabilizing officer responsibilities in mental health crisis situations.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
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