Bill Would Financially Penalize Iowa Cities that Defund the Police

A move to withhold state funding from cities or counties that cut budgets for local police and law enforcement has cleared initial review in the Iowa Senate. Senator Chris Cournoyer, a Republican from Le Claire, backs the bill.

“The objective here is that we want to make sure that our communities are safe across Iowa,” she says, “and there’s a lot of concerns here with some of the movements across the nation with defunding police.” Robert Palmer of the Iowa League of Cities says the bill is unnecessary intrusion into local decision making. And Palmer says it may prevent towns from entering into less expensive regional agreements for police or sheriff’s department protection.

“We often are talking with our members about how to find efficiencies, how to lower expenditures because it is our believe that is what’s in the interest of the property taxpayer,” Palmer says. “…This bill is incentivizing the retention of an expenditure level.” No group representing Iowa law enforcement is registered in favor of the bill. A lobbyist for the Iowa Police Chiefs Association says the group has concerns there may be unintended consequences if the bill becomes law. The Iowa Peace Officers Association and the Iowa State Sheriffs’ and Deputies’ Association are registered as undecided on the legislation.