Iowa

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated Jan. 20, 2020

Summary

Key:

Legislation Achieved

Some Progress

No Progress

  • Demilitarization

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    No knock warrants
    1033 program
    Military-style training
    SWAT data

    Iowa a

  • For Profit Policing

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Civil asset forfeiture
    Quotas
    Cost of misconduct

    Iowa b

  • Broken Windows Policing

    Minor offenses
    Objective justification for stops
    Reporting stop details

    Iowa c

  • Accountability

    Yes
    Yes
    Yes
    Yes

    Reckless civil rights violation
    Independent investigation
    Qualified immunity

    Iowa d

  • Reinvesting in Communities

    Mental health response

    Education, housing, and community health resources

    Iowa e

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

Some Progress:

In Iowa, no-knock warrants are only granted or allowed under "exigent" circumstances. However, the state has not completely banned the practice

1033 purchases

No Progress:

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

No Progress:

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.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Iowa has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

No Progress:

Iowa has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture.

Quotas

Achieved:

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

No Progress:

Iowa has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

No Progress:

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

No Progress:

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.

Reporting stop details

No Progress:

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.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

Iowa has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

Achieved:

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.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

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).

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

Some Progress:

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

No Progress:

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.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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