Mar 27, 2023 - News

Des Moines police review board not budgeted

Illustration of a cracked magnifying glass over a police badge.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

A citizen's police review board, as well as a special division that would analyze law enforcement stops and other data, are excluded from Des Moines' proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

Why it matters: Police accountability.

  • The recommendations were made last year by an independent consulting group that had been hired by the city government in 2020 to review the police department following years of racial profiling allegations against officers

Yes, but: The recommendations from Pennsylvania-based Public Works LLC are still on the table and were never expected to be fully implemented in the 2023-2024 year anyway, Sgt. Paul Parizek tells Axios.

  • An ongoing DMPD review by 21 CP Solutions, a police assessment company based in Chicago, will be completed in coming months and an action plan will follow, Parizek said.

Zoom in: DMPD doesn't currently collect data on stops that don't result in a citation, warning or arrest, a policy that has come under scrutiny in recent years in the wake of lawsuits.

  • The city spent $85,000 for Public Works' review on how to better collect law enforcement data to improve fairness and prevent discrimination.
  • Public Works suggested a three-to-five-year strategic plan to implement the recommendations.

In September, the City Council approved spending up to $250,000 for 21 CP to review policies, procedures and training.

Driving the news: DSM City Council tonight is expected to set an April 10 public hearing that is required by Iowa law before the proposed budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is approved.

  • Multiple civil rights advocates this month publicly criticized earlier versions of the budget plan for failing to enact the police reforms that were recommended by Public Works.

What they're saying: DSM continues to review citizen board options to develop a model that works for all stakeholders, Parizek said.

  • Plus, police want to avoid lawsuits like one challenging the racial makeup requirement of a similar board in Cedar Rapids, he said.

Yes, but: DSM resident and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement member Veola Perry this month cautioned the council against creating a board of "passive, pencil-pushing, paper-shuffling" figureheads.

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