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Iowa City launches website to let public track progress on police reform, racial equity and social justice goals

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Screenshot of Iowa City’s status report on its 17-point resolution of June 16.

Iowa City has added a section to the city’s website, allowing the public to see how much progress is being made on the council’s 17-point resolution addressing the demands of the Iowa Freedom Riders regarding policing, affordable housing and other issue involving racial justice and equity.

City Manager Geoff Fruin called the new section “a work in progress” during the Iowa City Council work session on Tuesday.

“We expect to be supplementing this with quite a bit of information over the next several months,” he said.

The landing page has a summary of each of the 17 points of the resolution the council passed on June 16, as well as links to other related information. Some of the links provide information in languages other than English that are spoken in Iowa City.

The page also links to a status report summarizing what is being done on each of the 17 points.

According to the status reports, almost all of the 17 points are currently in planning stages and three are listed as having had some actions beyond planning taken.

• Publish transparent and accessible Iowa City Police Department budget details

• Review ICPD’s inventory of military-grade equipment and ask the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office to divest itself of its Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle

• ICPD and other Johnson County law enforcement agencies signing a duty intervene and stop the use of excessive force memorandum of understanding.

Four points are listed as “awaiting city council action.”

• Committing $1 million to local efforts promoting racial equity and social justice, including the development of a new affordable housing plan

• Increasing opportunities for artistic impression by communities of color

• Develop a preliminary plan to restructure the Iowa City Police Department toward community policing

• Receive a report on ICPD involvement in the use of tear gas and flash-bang grenade on marchers on Dubuque Street on June 3

The city council is scheduled to address the $1 million allocation for promoting racial equity and social justice at its Aug. 1 work session. The council has requested a recommendation from the Public Art Advisory Commission on increasing artistic opportunities for people of color by Sept. 1. And it has set a deadline of Dec. 15 for the developing a preliminary plan to restructure ICPD.

The final item — a report on ICPD involvement in the use of tear gas and flash-bang grenades against protesters on June 3 — was addressed at the work session on Tuesday.

When the resolution was passed last month, Fruin suggested having the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) conduct the inquiry and prepare a report, and the council agreed. DCI investigated both police shootings that occurred in Iowa City last year. The report was supposed to be presented by Aug. 1.

But Fruin explained on Tuesday that DCI declined to undertake the inquiry, saying it would be better to avoid having a state agency conduct it. The contingent of law enforcement officers that fired tear gas on June 3 was under the command of Iowa State Patrol officers.

That left two options: either city staff could conduct the inquiry or the city could hire an outside firm. Fruin said he’s already spoken to two firms that specialize in conducting reviews like the one the city is seeking.

The city manager did caution there’s “probably no chance that a private review could turn around a report by the Aug. 1 deadline.”

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Councilmembers agreed that it was more important to have an independent review in which the public could have confidence than meet the Aug. 1 deadline, and instructed Fruin to pursue the private firm option.


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