MASON CITY, Iowa - According to the American Civil Liberties Union, more than 30 states have passed some form of anti-racial profiling legislation. Now, an advisory group is looking to make similar improvements in the Hawkeye State.
The Governor's FOCUS Committee on Criminal Justice is made up of members from many walks of life, including the Iowa Department of Corrections, Sheriff departments, and the Attorney General's office.
"Victims often get forgotten in this conversation. It's also important to note that victims and offender are not mutually exclusive terms," Janelle Melohn, the Director of the Crime Victim Assistance Division of the Iowa Attorney General's office, said.
Lieutenant Governor Adam Gregg, who heads the committee, applauds the recent work done in the Iowa legislature to pass a sweeping police reform bill that would ban chokeholds and address officer misconduct.
"Iowa came forward with legislation that was passed unanimously, both parties in both chambers. I think it's an inspiring example of partisanship, bi-partisanship in Iowa, and shows that, again, Iowa is leading the way when it comes to these very important issues."
The Iowa-Nebraska chapter of the NAACP also discussed work done on a statewide Anti-Racial and Ethnic Profiling Bill two years ago, but did not receive a floor vote, and what provisions should be included in the next round of legislation. Co-chairmen of the Agency's Legal Redress Committee David Walker and Russell Lovell stressed the need to define certain terms like profiling and pretextual stop.
"We need to look at examples like what we're going to show you that focus on key terms and provide definitions and are specific."
The discussion comes two days after the Des Moines city council approved an anti-racial profiling ordinance that prohibits biased policing, and requires city employees to report violations by officers.