Iowa City seeking public input on its plan to ‘restructure’ police department, address systematic racism in Iowa City

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Iowa City is updating residents on its plan to restructure the police department. Jack Brooks, the mask-wearing host of the video, says the city wants the public’s help in shaping the upcoming changes to the police department.

Residents are encouraged to visit the city’s website to learn about the preliminary plan to accelerate toward community policing.

There are 36 recommendations to address public health, community safety and systematic racism in Iowa City.

The three areas of focus are:

*Continuum of responses to crisis calls
*Commitment to unbiased policing
*Unconventional and innovative solutions

Among some of the recommendations to the commitment to unbiased policing:

*The Iowa City Police Department should conduct a comprehensive review of its Field Training program for probationary officers and partner with the community to expand training on the history of policing, past and ongoing disproportionate impacts on minority communities, steps officers can take in their daily duties to be unbiased and anti-racist, crisis intervention, de-escalation and awareness of existing prevention and diversion resources in the community.
*Community-led training opportunities should become an increased focus for the department, especially on the topic of race. The department should actively pursue community-led trainings in partnership with groups such as Black Voices Project, NAACP, etc.
*Iowa City should consider a civilian Accreditation Manager position that could bring a non-law enforcement perspective to police policy development and compliance review efforts.
*The department should update each of the 36 general orders scheduled for review in 2021 with a racial impact lens and make necessary policy changes to eliminate racial inequities in resulting outcomes and incorporate the inclusion of a Racial Impact Statement into the review process beginning in 2021.
*The department shall make permanent the prohibition on indiscriminate license plate checking and initiation of traffic stops based on non-public safety secondary violations after any modifications are considered after the initial 60-day review period.
*The department should assign a liaison to the Human Rights Commission and actively participate in their community education, recognition and outreach events in order to build more understanding and connections with diverse populations in the community.
*Iowa City should work with its legislative delegation, professional associations and stakeholder groups to introduce legislation at the state level that would explicitly prohibit race-based calls to law enforcement when there is no emergency or criminal activity and initiate a public service campaign to build awareness of this phenomenon and eliminate race-based calls.

Residents can view progress of items in the resolution on Iowa City’s Black Lives Matter website.

Some of the resolution items passed on June 16, 2020, include:

*Commiting $1 million to local efforts promoting racial equity and social justice.
*Increasing diversity of city employees.
*Receiving a report of Iowa City Police Department involvement in the use of a gas and flash-bang devices during a June 2020 Black Lives Matter protest in Iowa City.
*Creating ad hoc Truth and Reconciliation Commission to carry out restorative justice.
*Decriminalize small amounts of marijuana.
*Continue use of racial equity toolkit in all city departments and educate and train the local business community.
*Increase opportunities for artistic expression by communities of color.
*Prohibit the use of tear gas, rubber bullets and flash bangs against peaceful protesters.
*Establish Juneteenth as an official city holiday beginning in 2021.

Residents are encouraged to provide input on the plan by taking a survey or emailing recommendations to [email protected]

Author: Jacob Hall