Following a year marked by protests and riots across the U.S. largely targeting law enforcement agencies and officers, GOP lawmakers in one state recently advanced a motion to support its police.
According to Breitbart, legislators in Iowa have passed a bill that calls for increased penalties for attacks on officers and strengthened qualified immunity protections.
“Actions speak louder than words”
Dubbed the Back the Blue Bill, reports explain that the controversial legislation is facing opposition from some Democrats. Since passing Iowa’s House of Representatives, the proposal will now move to the state Senate.
One of its sponsors, Republican state Rep. Jarad Klein, defended the bill, insisting that the civil unrest in recent months “is not peaceful protesting” and the measures he proposed would protect police.
“What we’ve seen is destruction and damage in our communities,” he said, according to Breitbart. “Let me be clear: If you stand up tonight and say you support law enforcement, your words will become meaningless with a ‘no’ vote on this bill. Actions speak louder than words.”
The lawmaker added that Americans “rely on these men and women that have our backs, and with this piece of legislation today, we can show them that we have their back, too.”
Rep. Jon Thorup, a Republican who also serves as an Iowa State Patrol trooper, sought to ease concerns that the bill would help shield bad cops.
“They don’t last long,” he told local reporters. “They get caught doing the wrong things.”
“Seconds to make decisions”
Nevertheless, Thorup said that “one thing officers worry about is getting sued,” noting that police “only have seconds to make decisions” in the heat of the moment.
“Attorneys and judges have hours,” he said. “Management has hours, weeks, months.”
Among the bill’s notable Democratic critics is Rep. Christina Bohannan, who complained: “I think this bill unnecessarily pits law enforcement against groups like Black Lives Matter and other protesters.”
Some Democrats, like Rep. Wes Breckenridge, found aspects to support, including sick leave, worker’s compensation, pension, and other benefits that could attract new recruits. The debate played out in the wake of a funeral on Friday for Iowa State Patrol Sgt. Jim Smith, who was killed in the line of duty earlier this month.