Today Senate Majority Leader Jack Whitver, R-Ankeny, and Senate President Charles Schneider, R-West Des Moines, commented on the passage of HF 2647, a police reform bill to address unequal treatment of minorities by some members of law enforcement.
HF 2647 has four policy divisions. Division 1 empowers the attorney general to investigate a death caused by a law enforcement officer. Division 2 bans choke holds by law enforcement unless an officer is in a life threatening situation. Division 3 prohibits officers with a proven record of misconduct from moving from one law enforcement entity to another and continuing their misconduct in a different city or state. Division 4 requires law enforcement agencies to provide annual training in de-escalation techniques and the prevention of bias in law enforcement.
Senator Whitver’s floor remarks on HF 2647 are below:
Unequal treatment of minorities by some members of law enforcement has not been a problem that has emerged over the last 2 weeks, or 2 month or 2 years. It has been with us for generations.
A failure of action has afflicted not only Republicans majorities in the chamber, this state, and this country but Democrat majorities as well. In light of recent events and the history of this issue, it is time to move forward on policies to improve the treatment of minorities and take steps to address incidents of law enforcement officers infringing on the constitutional rights of minorities.
One of the principle reasons people organize themselves into governments is to protect themselves. Whether a feudal castle, an ancient walled city, or the United States of America establishing itself apart from the tyranny of the British crown, people depend on their government to protect their life and their property. When the government fails to protect the people, unprotected people rightfully seek a solution.
When the rights to life and due process are denied to people like George Floyd or Ahmaud Arbery, it provides a platform for the shared experiences of other black Americans. They demand some solutions from their government.
And so do I.
That reason is why I have brought SF 2416 to the Senate floor today. This bill has four main policy proposals. It prohibits the training and use of choke holds by law enforcement unless a law enforcement officer is experiencing an imminent threat to his or her life. It prohibits officers with records of proven misconduct from moving from police department to police department to continue that misconduct. It also empowers the attorney general to investigate a death caused by a police officer. Finally, this bill implements training for law enforcement on de-escalation techniques and methods on eliminating racial bias in law enforcement practices.
The government has a role to play in solving this problem but the government cannot solve every problem of racism or discrimination. That change can only happen in the hearts and minds of Americans through the conversations now happening in workplaces, neighborhoods, and homes around the country.
I don’t believe this bill will solve all the problems black Iowans face. I do believe this bill is a bi-partisan, good faith effort on behalf of the Senate, the House of Representatives, and the governor to implement a number of requests put forward by those Iowans advocating for fair treatment of minorities by law enforcement.
Senator Schneider commented:
“I am proud to see the Senate pass this legislation and take a step toward improving relationships between minorities and law enforcement in Iowa. House File 2647 is a great example of how change can come from listening to each other and working together to find real solutions to the problems facing our state. While this bill is one step in the right direction, there is still work each and every one of us has to do to make sure everybody is treated equally in our home state.”