All three Iowa House members on a Wednesday subcommittee approved a bill to create a blue alert program within the Department of Public Safety for the apprehension of a person suspected of killing or seriously injuring a peace officer in the line of duty, or due to safety concerns for a peace officer missing while on duty.
Rep. Jarad Klein (R-Keota) said implementing the program will not have any fiscal impact.
“We can do this using already existing structures,” he said.
Last year the bill moved, but other bills for a green alert for veterans and a silver alert for seniors made things more complicated.
“When we talk about veterans, there was a fiscal impact because they have to get access to records to verify status and all of that sort of stuff,” Klein said. “What happened was all of those other ones, that may have been valid, in and of themselves distracted from this piece, so it became just too much of a lift last year to get done whereas this year no one is talking about those other ones that distract. This one is very simple and straight forward and I think we’re on the path to getting it done.”
Matt Harkin, President of the Iowa State Police Association, said the bill will help protect all Iowans by enabling law enforcement to disseminate critical information in a timely manner.
Klein said the bill is necessary because of the increase in threats to law enforcement.
“You’ve got law enforcement officers who are being targeted, who are being ambushed,” he said. “It’s part of the reason we have trouble getting new ones and recruiting and retaining. The public doesn’t respect them like they should or like they used to. It’s a much more dangerous position than it was before.”
Klein said if someone is willing to shoot a cop, they’re likely willing to shoot anyone else who may get in their path.
“That’s why we need law enforcement and the Second Amendment,” he said.
Harkin agreed with Klein.
“I certainly don’t want to take away from important sharing of information for other people who are in need or injured,” he said. “That being said, the instances of assaults on police officers, ambush-style assaults on police officers, are increasing and those individuals are very much a danger to the general public.”
Rep. Rick Olson (D-Des Moines) shared some hesitation on singling out police officers. He asked about people who work in the Department of Corrections.
“I think they’re also targeting schools and they’re targeting concert venues,” Olson said. “They’re targeting all types of folks other than just line officers.”