This September, the Iowa Civil and Human Rights Commission will host a discussion with the Des Moines police department and community partners on how to reduce violence and strengthen relations with local law enforcement officials. ‘Bridging the Gap’ is scheduled for Monday, September 17 from 6 to 8 pm at the Central Library located in downtown Des Moines. City officials encourage citizens to attend, engage in dialogue, and vote for ideas to be implemented in the future.
During 2017, 25 homicides were recorded in Des Moines, the most in the city since 1978. According to the Iowa Department of Public Safety, violent crimes have increased 50% statewide. This includes homicide, aggravated assault, robbery, and sexual assault.
During the 2018 session, both the Governor and Republican lawmakers approved a $23.3 million budget cut, which included a $1.9 million decrease from the Department of Public Safety’s general fund; $4.6 million decrease to the Iowa Courts; $2.9 million decrease to Iowa’s Public Health’s substance abuse treatment program; $9.1 million decrease to the Department of Corrections; and $500,000 decrease to the Attorney General’s administrative fund. All of this combined has created numerous financial obstacles for local law enforcement, public safety officials, prosecutors, correctional facilities, treatment programs, and court officials to assist victims of violent crimes and bringing criminals to justice.
Iowa budget cuts have also caused the Department of Criminal Investigation to experience a significant backlog and have contributed to the Department’s delay with DNA analysis processing for violent crime evidence. As of January 31, 2018, the Department’s backlog of DNA case assignments was 1,129 with an average turnaround time of 200 days. As a result, some Iowa sexual assault survivors have had to delay court proceedings against their aggressors due to the evidence kit’s four-to-six week processing time.
To find more information on the “Bridging the Gap” event go to: https://www.dmgov.org/Departments/HumanRights/Pages/bridgingthegap.aspx?Tab=Bridging+the+Gap