Thursday, March 11, 2021

Iowa Senate passes two pro-police bills

All Republicans and ten Democrats in the Iowa Senate passed a bill designed to penalize cities that "defund" the police. Republicans senators passed another bill that would boost penalties for rioting. Senator Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, says it's about supporting law enforcement officers who dealt with violent rioters last summer.

"Those are folks out violating the law," Garrett said. "That's why we've got these provisions...to try to make the penalties enough that people will think twice about it."

Garrett's bill would keep arrested protesters in jail for 24 hours before they'd be eligible for release. Garrett calls it a cooling off period.

3 "Someone who is out rioting and violating the law who is arrested, just hang onto them a little while so they don't go right back out and start rioting again," Garrett said.

Democrats called Garrett's list of enhanced penalties extreme. Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, says Republicans seem to have forgotten why people were protesting last summer.

"We're acting now like it was an isolated incident of a bunch of nuts that came out and just started destroying property. We're not ever talking in this place about the inequality," Bisignano said.

Senator Kevin Kinney, a Democrat from Oxford, is a retired Johnson County Sheriff's deputy. He questions boosting the penalty for criminal mischief -- for painting graffiti, breaking windows or defacing statues.

"Do we really want that to be a Class D felony that affects a kid the rest of their life?" Kinney says.

The bill also creates a new crime called "interference with public disorder control." Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs, is a special agent with the Division of Criminal Investigation.

"What our law enforcement saw around the Capitol last summer that while there were many peaceful protesters to show up...there were also actors out there who decided to agitate," Dawson says.

Dawson says it's a charge that could be leveled at someone who does something like throw tear gas canisters back at police.

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