Bill on racial profiling gains bipartisan support at the Statehouse

Published: Feb. 22, 2018 at 7:58 PM CST
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The Iowa-Nebraska NAACP held its annual Day on the Hill on Thursday to discuss a bill that would eliminate racial profiling.

Three employees from the West Des Moines Old Navy store were fired this month after alleged racial profiling.

A shopper, James Conley, was asked to take off his jacket to make sure it wasn't stolen.

Iowa-Nebraska NAACP President Betty Andrews said incidents of racial profiling are not isolated.

While the Statehouse has discussed racial profiling in the past, she hopes recent events will give the bill the support it needs to become law.

“Our people are dying in the streets,” Andrews said. “This is important."

Andrews said she hears complaints of racial profiling in stores and on the roads.

“They've told of countless times in which they have been stopped or been followed,” Andrews said.

The organization is pushing for a bill to collect data from police traffic stops, provide officer training and create a community policing advisory board.

Republican Rep. Clel Baudler, who spent 32 years in law enforcement, opposes the bill.

“It doesn't make any difference whether he's white, green or black,” Baulder said. “They say it's an information-gathering tool. It's not. It's an anti-law enforcement tool."

Baudler said the bill would impede police efforts to fight crime.

“Every stop you make, every time you deal with a citizen, guess what?” Baulder said. “You have to give them information on how to file a complaint against you because you thought you was treated badly.”

The bill's sponsor, Republican Sen. Brad Zaun, said while he stands behind police, racial profiling is unacceptable.

“Maybe even in Iowa there might be a few bad apples that are doing this, and I don’t think it should be tolerated at all,” Zaun said.

The Des Moines Police Department declined to comment on the pending legislation. The measure will be debated in the Senate.