Gov. Reynolds signs ‘Back the Blue’ bill

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 8:18 AM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday signed a bill which strengthens legal protections for police in Iowa.

Lawmakers passed the bill last month. Senate File 342 will protect drivers who unintentionally hit protesters in the street during a protest.

It also increases the penalties for rioting and blocking roadways, and protects officers in these situations.

The governor signed the bill Thursday morning at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnston.

“I made it clear in my Condition of the State Address that Iowa’s law enforcement will always have my respect, and I will always have their back,” Gov. Reynolds said. “Today’s bill embodies that commitment in a historic way. The public peace is too important, and the safety of our officers too precious, to tolerate destructive behavior.”

Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann released the following statement regarding the bill:

“Republicans have been clear - we stand with Iowa’s men and women in law enforcement. This legislation supports law enforcement so they can confidently do their jobs when their communities need it most. The men and women in blue put their lives on the line every single time they are on duty, and too often now the loudest voices are demonizing them. To them I can confidently say, now, the voices of Iowans are being heard and they support you.”

Opponents of the bill call it an anti-protestor bill. Mark Stringer, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Iowa, said it gives law enforcement broad new power.

“It gives police even less accountability by codifying broad immunity from many state law claims brought by those who are harmed by police actions,” Stringer said in a statement. “It also stiffens criminal penalties for certain types of protest-related offenses. And it creates an entirely new penalty for people who are attending a lawful protest that turns unlawful, and who don’t or can’t leave in time.”

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