116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CORALVILLE — The city of Coralville took the first step in 2020 to create a city board promoting unbiased policing practices and analyzing police data.
The ordinance — created in collaboration with the NAACP — prohibits biased policing and racial profiling, among other practices. It also establishes a citizen community policing advisory board, as well as informs residents how to file complaints.
The ordinance also outlines what data should be collected by the Coralville Police Department where there is contact with an individual. Data should be maintained for at least 10 years and posted on the city’s website to the extent allowed, according to the ordinance.
The Coralville City Council gave final approval to the ordinance at its Dec. 8, 2020, meeting. Council member Mitch Gross said afterward that the ordinance is the first of many steps in the fight for racial justice, according to meeting minutes. He said the fight is ongoing and won’t be fixed by one piece of legislation, but added that the ordinance is an example of people coming together to make a difference.
What’s happened since
After the ordinance was approved, the city began to recruit people to serve on the board.
The ordinance requires the board to have up to seven members who are appointed by the mayor with input from the president of the local NAACP chapter. The majority of the members — at least four — need to be Coralville residents.
One person is required to have law enforcement experience, one must be a member of the NAACP and one must be a member of the League of United Latin American Citizens.
The board had its first meeting in June, Mayor Meghann Foster said. Some of the next steps for the new members are figuring out the structure of the board and getting training on procedures and Iowa code to understand the authority of the board.
The board’s main tasks include educating the public about unbiased policing, making recommendations to the police department on training opportunities to advocate for unbiased policing, and reviewing data collected by the department about contact with the public.
The board can present recommendations to the City Council and police department.
Foster said the board currently is waiting on traffic stop data to be collected and analyzed.
The city entered a memorandum of agreement with Chris Barnum and CR Research Group LC in August 2020 to analyze traffic stop disproportionality for three years. The analysis began in 2020, but 2021 was the first full year of data collection.
Barnum and his team have reviewed traffic stop data in several other cities, including Iowa City. Cedar Rapids and North Liberty also have decided to pursue having traffic stop data reviewed by Barnum and his team.
“Once the review board gets that (data), then they can start looking at things like recommending trainings and making more specific recommendations,” Foster said.
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