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Public officials react to the Governor’s proposed Back the Blue Act

AMES, Iowa– During Gov. Kim Reynolds’ Condition of the State Address, she proposed a bill she wants to introduce to the Statehouse that addresses attacks on law enforcement. 

On the governor’s website, the Back the Blue Act is said to include:  

  • Officers will have the right to pursue civil remedies against a person that injures them for being law enforcement or files a false claim against them 
  • Enhanced penalties under Iowa Code for harassment and assault of peace officers.
  • address riotous behavior 
  • Withhold state funding to local governments that reduce police budgets.

Senate Democratic leader, Zach Wahls, said without legislative language it’s hard to tell how this act will perform in the Statehouse. 

Sen. Wahls said the governor should bring Republican and Democrat leaders in the Senate together to find bipartisan solutions to police policies. 

“We had a really good bipartisan process in 2020, when we brought forward the More Perfect Union plan,” Sen. Wahls said. “And I think that if the governor is serious about continuing that bipartisan work in 2021 the next step would be to bring folks together to have those conversations and to get our input on what we think that next step should look like.” 

Governor Reynolds’ Committee on Criminal Justice Reform also outlined plans on banning racial profiling. 

Ames Mayor, John Halia, said Ames has not seen an increase in violence against police officers within the last year. However, Ames City Council has been working on police policies, after receiving feedback from the community during a city council meeting following the death of George Floyd. 

Since then, Ames has banned racial profiling for all city employees, working to provide more police data to the public on its website, and is currently focusing on police funding while evaluating the city’s budget. 

Mayor Halia said he believes issues regarding policing would stay on a local level. 

“We believe that the best control and the best decisions are made at the local level. Because we are in tune with what the needs are of our residents, and it may be different between Des Moines and Ames, Iowa City Cedar Falls Council Bluffs,” Mayor Halia.  “And so we will make sure that there’s respect and we are a home rule state.” 

The Back the Blue Act has already received backlash from leaders of the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement who say the proposed bill will prevent people from voicing concerns against law enforcement. 

The Back the Blue Act has yet to be filed as a bill this legislative session. 

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