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Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Less than 20% of Des Moines police officers live in the city, according to data Axios obtained through a records request.

  • The rest are sprinkled among 47 cites in multiple counties, with the most in Ankeny, West Des Moines and Norwalk.

Why it matters: Some civil rights advocates argue that more officers living outside the city they serve leads to disproportionate arrest rates.

  • If officers aren't part of the community, they're less likely to understand it. That can negatively impact trust-building within communities of color, some advocates say.

Yes, but: Not everyone agrees. A USA Today review last year found "no evidence" that officer residency matters.

Context: Iowa law allows officers to live anywhere in the state.

  • Des Moines requires officers to live within an hour from work.

What they're saying: DMPD gives officer applicants who live in the city a 5% preference point bonus, which can help them land a job ahead of another equally qualified candidate who lives elsewhere.

  • But that hasn't had any significant effect on the overall officer residency percentages, James Wells, DSM's HR director, told Axios.

The big picture: About 60% of officers in the nation's 75 largest cities live outside city limits, according to a 2014 analysis by FiveThirtyEight.

  • Communities have called for residency requirements for some time but the issue gained momentum following George Floyd’s murder last year.

The intrigue: We also asked three of Des Moines' largest suburbs for the same data. Two — Ankeny and West Des Moines — wouldn’t provide the breakdown, citing privacy issues. (Axios didn't request officer names or specific addresses.)

  • In Urbandale, about 20% of officers live in the city.

What's next: Joe Henry, a civil rights advocate who also served on the city's Civil Service Commission, is pushing Des Moines to take additional steps, such as offering financial incentives to resident officers.

  • City spokesman Al Setka told Axios there are ongoing discussions about such incentives.
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Go deeper

Linh Ta, author of Des Moines
Aug 25, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Von Maur closing Valley West Mall location

Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

Von Maur will close its doors at Valley West Mall right before it opens its new location at Jordan Creek Town Center next year, the Des Moines Register reports.

Why it matters: It's another dark, empty anchor in a mall that's struggled to attract and retain tenants in recent years.

  • And the mall's smaller tenants rely on foot traffic from anchor destinations like Von Maur.

"Justice for J6" rally underway with large police presence

Police officers watch as demonstrators gather for the "Justice for J6" rally in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 18, 2021. Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

A few hundred demonstrators were met by a heavy law enforcement presence on Saturday at the "Justice for J6" rally outside the fenced-off U.S. Capitol, AP reports.

The latest: U.S. Capitol Police officers at approximately 12:40 p.m. arrested a man with a knife for a weapons violation, the agency wrote in a tweet.

DHS to increase deportation flights to Haiti from Del Rio

Migrants walk across the Rio Grande River carrying supplies back to a makeshift encampment under the international bridge between Del Rio, Texas, and Acuña, Mexico. Officials are struggling to provide food, water, shelter and sanitation, forcing migrants to cross the Rio Grande several times per day for basic necessities. Photo: Jordan Vonderhaar via Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security on Saturday announced plans to ramp up deportation flights to Haiti out of the small Texas border town Del Rio, starting as soon as Sunday.

Why it matters: Reports have emerged of more than 10,000 migrants, primarily from Haiti, crowded in a temporary camp under the international bridge in Del Rio. Hoping to find refuge in the United States, they've had to bear with filthy conditions and the scorching sun for days, per an NBC News affiliate.