City Council Approves Racial Profiling Ordinance

DES MOINES, IOWA – Monday, June 22, 2020 – The Des Moines City Council tonight advanced two years of extensive efforts and approved a comprehensive racial profiling ordinance. Council members waived the third reading of the ordinance, approving the measure by a 7-0 vote. The ordinance takes effect immediately upon publication as provided by state law.  

“This historic ordinance is a bold and positive step forward for Des Moines and will serve as a model for other communities around the country,” said Mayor Frank Cownie. “This measure should be viewed as an important beginning for our community to work together, make a positive difference and improve our understanding of each other.”

The City and the Des Moines Civil and Human Rights (CHR) Commission began work on the racial profiling ordinance in 2018. Since then, City leaders and the Commission worked closely with the Community Alliance, a consortium that includes the NAACP, ACLU and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement, to further strengthen the ordinance. 

“It has certainly been a journey, and we appreciate the opportunity to be part of this,” said Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP. “We are very pleased…we reached a major milestone.”

The elements of the new racial profiling ordinance include:

  • Prohibiting biased policing and racial profiling
  •  Mandating annual de-escalation, cultural diversity, cultural competency, and implicit bias training for sworn police personnel 
  • Directing the Des Moines CHR Commission to educate the public and assist those who witness or believe they have experienced discrimination with filing complaints 
  • Also prohibiting discriminatory pre-textual stops – which are prohibited already by state and federal law 
  • Requiring employees who witness biased policing or racial profiling to report the incident and, where use of unreasonable force occurs, to intervene
  • Mandating the public availability and accessibility of police personnel policies and standard operating procedures in person and on the city's website


Al Setka
Communications Manager, City Manager’s Office 
(515) 283-4057

About the City of Des Moines
The City of Des Moines: Iowa’s capital city and local government servicing more than 217,000 residents, 51+ neighborhoods, over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails. The City of Des Moines stands to be a financially strong city with exceptional city services, fostering an involved community in a customer friendly atmosphere. Visit DSM.cityFacebook and Twitter for more information.