DES MOINES, Iowa -- As the Des Moines Police Department and two of their officers face a racial profiling lawsuit, the Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement wants answers. "It is clearly an embarrassment for the city of Des Moines," said Viola Perry of Iowa CCI.
The actions of officer Kevin Thies and Natalie Heinemann during a traffic stop of two black men near Union Park in July have been under review for forty-five days. Iowa CCI's Lori Young said, "We waited two weeks, three weeks then four weeks and we think they've had enough time."
Neither Montray Little, nor Jared Clinton were given a citation but Little was briefly placed in handcuffs and never given a reason why they were pulled over. "We remain appalled and outraged at the Des Moines police officers' treatment of these two young men," said ACLU Iowa's Executive Director Mark Stringer.
Iowa cci, the NAACP and ACLU are growing impatient but the police department is in no hurry. "It's about the quality, not how fast we can get it done. This isn't a race for us. We don't get a chance to do it over," said Sergeant Paul Parizek.
Since the video became public Iowa CCI claims six additional claims have come in on officer Thies and one on officer Heinemann. They believe Thies should be fired and Heinemann re-trained. "The bias that leads officers to be more likely to perceive a black driver more likely to be involved in drugs or gang activities than a white one," said Stringer. Allegations the police department does not take lightly. Parizek said, "We were one of the first to have biased policing policy and one of the first to do implicit biased training in the academy so we understand this. We take it seriously and it's not going to be tolerated within our organization."
Some believe the organization is not living up to that sentiment. Perry said, "We cannot standby while there is an officer out in our neighborhoods who is a menace to the black community."
Police say they will not hide behind the badge to protect one of their own. Parizek said, "It is a family but it is one built on transparency and accountability. It is built on high expectation and if you don't meet our expectations you are probably not going to be a part of our family for long."
A racial justice community planning meeting is set for October 11th, Iowa CCI hopes it will help prepare the group to address the Des Moines city council on the need for an anti-racial profiling ordinance.