After months of anti-police sentiment from states throughout the union, Iowa comes in like a breath of fresh spring air with a solid pro-police bill.
Senate File 342
Iowa House of Representatives voted on Senate File 342, passing it 63-30, with 8 Democrats reaching across the aisle to vote for the bill while 2 Republication voted against.
The bill, also referred to as the “Back the Blue”, is meant to protect law enforcement as they work attempt to do their jobs amid endless protests and other daily challenges. Lawmakers say the whole reason this bill was created was due to the protests that happened in Des Moines and other parts of Iowa last summer.
According to KCCI, rioting becomes a felony as opposed to being a misdemeanor. Penalties for obstructing roadways are also increased as are penalties for shining lights at police officers, and destroying pubic propery.
However, the bill also makes drivers who hit protesters with their vehicles immune from civil liability within certain criteria. Republicans say they are moving to reduce the amount of violence that has been ever present over the past year.
According to Rep. Jarad Klien, ” What we’ve seen is not peaceful protesting. What we’ve seen is destruction and damage in our communities.”
The bill was met with plenty of opposition from protestors and lawmakers alike. Many believe it reduces police liability and will allow bad cops to continue to fall through the cracks.
Democrats in Iowa say while they support portions of the bill, they are concerned that the bill will be more divisive. According to the Des Moines Register, many believe it unfairly tips the scale between racial justice advances and support for law enforcement, ignoring forward progress.
“I really think this bill unnecessarily pits law enforcement against groups like Black Lives Matter and other protesters just at the time when we need to be bringing all of these groups together,” said Rep. Christina Bohannan, D-Iowa City.
A Glimpse of Support
While Iowa may be one of the first states to show support for law enforcement, it does not look like they will be alone. Many states, including Arizona and Indiana, have similar pending legislation, and Kentucky has recently passed a bill that criminalizes insulting officers.
Pro-police legislation is incredibly important in today’s climate and shows officers that people do have their backs while they put their lives on the line every single day.