University Heights, Iowa City Council considers a racial profiling ban

The tiny enclave of University Heights could become the first city in Iowa to ban the use of racial profiling in policing.

Ordinance 235 — spearheaded by City Council members Silvia Quezada and Nick Herbold — prohibits the use of “explicit or implicit biases,” especially in relation to profiling or discriminatory policing practices. It would establish a citizen advisory board to resolve complaints against officers over discriminatory practices and annually review police data.

“This was not something that I thought we needed in order to address an existing problem,” said Herbold, who serves as chair of the city’s Community Protection Committee. “But I think it is something that is needed in order to ensure this community is welcoming and respectful of all people and that we are doing all we can to eliminate bias from our police practices. And I’m not saying we had issues with bias previous to us creating this ordinance, I am just saying we want to have clear policies and procedures in place to ensure explicit or implicit biases so not play a part in enforcement activities.”

The ordinance is expected to go before the City Council on Tuesday for its final consideration. If passed, Quezada said, it would be the first of its kind in Iowa.