A “chasm of mistrust” separates many black Iowans and law enforcement officers in the state, the Des Moines Register reports in its series “Black Iowa: Still Unequal.” Among other things, black Iowans complain that they are subjected to racial profiling by police. Iowa is among 32 states that do not require police to collect traffic stop data related to race. Only two Iowa police departments — in Davenport and Iowa City — are known to formally analyze the data and share it with the public. That leaves scant empirical evidence about whether Iowa officers target drivers based on their race.
In those two cities, analyses by a St. Ambrose University professor show a disproportionate number of black drivers were stopped in comparison with whites. The studies also show black drivers were more likely than whites to be asked if their vehicles could be searched. The paper interviewed 23 black Iowans, and all but one — a police officer — said they believe officers routinely single out minorities for questioning and use their authority as a method of intimidation.