DES MOINES, Iowa — After three racial discrimination lawsuits in three months filed against the Des Moines Police Department, some members of the community are asking the city to take action. They presented the city council with several proposals they say will reduce racial profiling.
On Monday Justyn Lewis, an Iowa CCI member, helped lay out some proposals his organization feels will improve the DMPD.
“I am not a gangster, I am not a thug, but I’ve had guns drawn on me, I’ve been pulled over for a simple taillight. It’s not an issue of me being anti-cop because I respect what they do and I honor their work, but I do believe there are people hiding in the system who are not a great representation of our community” he told the council.
Iowa CCI proposed outlawing pretextual stops, where officers stop a car for a taillight or a cracked windshield under suspicion of a more serious crime, a citizen review board to examine complaints of racial bias, mandating annual public data collection of police stops and arrests sorted by race, age, and gender, more implicit bias and de-escalation training, and making marijuana possession for personal use the lowest level of enforcement. Iowa CCI says that the data collection in particular is something the feel would be good for everyone.
“It’s a plus for the community and a plus for the department, because if there seems to be a problem, and the numbers don’t lie, you can then address that issue, if an officer’s records or numbers seem to be off” said Sharon Zanders-Ackiss of the CCI.
On Tuesday City Councilman Josh Mandelbaum voiced support for reducing the priority police take on personal marijuana possession.
“We should be focusing on the violent crime and the most important crimes, and low level drug possession for personal use is not a way you want to introduce someone into the criminal justice system. It shouldn’t be a priority” said Mandelbaum.
The city council voted for the proposals to be reviewed by the city manager who will report back on their feasibility and projected outcomes in either January or February.