As police violence continues to be at the forefront of 2020’s political issues, Ames City Council members will analyze local policing strategies and hear community input.
A special Ames City Council meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday will focus on recommendations and community feedback on local law enforcement policies. The meeting is the result of increased activism from the Ames community.
“Shortly after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, the Ames City Council began receiving an extraordinary amount of comments and questions about how our local law enforcement system operates,” Ames Mayor John Haila said in a press release. “This report represents a thoughtful analysis of the concerns we heard, and the report recommends modifications to policies and practices as we move forward.”
A report providing recommendations and modifications to Ames Police Department policies will be presented to the Ames City Council by City Manager Steve Schainker at the meeting.
The full 45-page report released by the city is organized into nine individual topics, ranging from officer training, selection process, discipline and funding. The report is designed to highlight what has been suggested by the community regarding each topic, how the city currently approaches each topic and what the city manager is recommending to the Council.
Influences for the city manager's recommendations cited in the report include suggestions from community members, police department staff suggestions, peer department activities and services and the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing.
An Ames Black Lives Matter (BLM) leader, Apple Amos, said Ames community members have played a strong role in seeking out changes to local law enforcement policies.
“A lot of the specific pressure and communication people have had with the City Council hasn’t just been interactions with BLM but has straight up been interactions from emails and phone calls from community members not necessarily involved with the organization but also want to see a difference in policing,” Amos said. “I really think it’s the whole movement of people across the nation trying to reimagine policing.”
Ames BLM has interacted with Ames community members through social media and events, Amos said, but Ames BLM did not request community members to contact Ames City Council.
Amos described interactions with City Council members at protests in Ames and in Des Moines as frustrating.
“Even City Council members who are sympathetic and say they support Black Lives Matter and also say they also want to see a change in policing seem to be resistant to actually making those changes,” Amos said.
Amos said the community’s requests “aren’t too large and are ultimately necessary.”
Halia said a commitment to continuous improvement for a positive impact on the Ames community will “be heard loud and clear” at the Ames City Council special meeting and from the city’s report.
“I know for a fact there’s people who don’t think anything should be done, and there will be people who will probably think a lot more should be done,” Halia said. “There has to be a determination of how to go through a process that addresses issues, and it’s going to take time. It’s not going to be something that is instantaneous, but I do think this report is sought to be done in an objective way.”
Halia encourages community members to read the full report thoughtfully and objectively.
“There is a sincere commitment to implementing changes,” Halia said.
The city manager’s report puts forth 21 different law enforcement policy recommendations to the Ames City Council.
No action is to be taken by the Council regarding law enforcement policies at Tuesday’s meeting, except potentially a vote to place some or all of the report recommendations on a future agenda.
Residents and community members will be able to participate or view the meeting via Zoom. Participants will be given a 3-minute limit on the floor to provide feedback to council members. Comments and input from community members must specifically pertain to the report.
More information on attending or participating in the meeting can be found here.