University Heights City Council considers racial profiling ban

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UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Iowa (KWWL) — The University Heights city council is looking at passing a ban on racial profiling for its Police Department, tomorrow night.

According to Police Chief, Nathan Petersen racially profiling is already against the departments policies, the ordinance adds some behind the scene’s elements.

“We already have it in policy so it’s really not going to change anything we already do. We have, for the last year now, been working with the NAACP here in Iowa City. They have a senate bill right now that’s going through, that has a lot of the same language. So we’re just looking to put that as a local ordinance,” said Chief Petersen.

The ordinance would set up a 5-member community review board to evaluate claims of racial bias and track more detailed data of police, community interactions.

“The public won’t notice any difference. The information that we track is the information already available on their driver’s license,” said Chief Petersen.

Iowa City NAACP Chapter President, Kevin Sanders, who’s worked closely with city council and Chief Petersen to create the ordinance, said it’s a step in the right direction.

“There is so much mistrust with the minority community because of issues with contextual trust. There’s just a lot of mistrust, so we’re hoping that, with the passing of this ordinance, we can minimize that,” said Sanders.

The city ordinance would be the first of its kind in Iowa. Sanders said thanks to the work of Chief Petersen, he hopes it’s the first of many to come.

“Of course we would like to see the ordinance pass, but we would also like to see follow-through. Tomorrow is going to be a historical day for law enforcement, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

Community leaders said this ordinance is based on a 2018 Iowa Senate Bill. That legislation would require police officers to undergo implicit bias training. That bill has yet to pass.

Ashley Neighbor

Ashley Neighbor

Reporter, Cedar Rapids
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