Public Works
Des Moines Register

Des Moines Police urged to collect better traffic data and create a review board, report says

The Des Moines Police Department should collect and report data on all pedestrian and traffic stops, not just those resulting in citations or arrests, and analyze and share the data collected, a new report completed for the city concludes.

Analyzing information from those stops, including the race, ethnicity and gender of those stopped, and sharing it with the public is critical for detecting patterns of racial profiling or discrimination, the review by Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Public Works LLC said.

“Sharing data with the community is paramount to gaining trust,” the report said. 
Betty Andrews, president of the Iowa-Nebraska NAACP, said she was buoyed by the consultants’ report.
“The recommendations are pretty much our recommendations,” she said. “It’s good to see that others, when looking at the situation, can see the same path that we see.”
For a fuller analysis of racial profile, the city needs to collect more information, the report said.
“Currently, the Des Moines Police Department collects data only on traffic stops that result in a citation or in an arrest. … Consequently, the total number of stops is unknown,” the report said. 
“It’s useful and important to know that information.”  Eric Schnurer, Public Works LLC founder and president, told the Des Moines City Council during a work session Wednesday.
“For large city departments, for cities that would like to consider themselves at the cutting edge … you’re not collecting the data that you need to be collecting,” Schnurer said. 
Beyond not collecting enough data, the city does not examine the data it does have, “this limits the use of data analytics in decision-making and keeping the public informed,” the report said.
Along with suggesting the city should collect, analyze and share more data, Public Works also recommended the city create a Law Enforcement Community Advisory & Review Board “representing diverse community members, stakeholders, advocates, and people with lived experience to both review and collaborate with the DMPD on matters of public safety”.
Advocates of changes in police policy have called for a similar community board in recent years.
In focus groups, the idea of a civilian review board that would both advise the department and review investigations of officer misconduct was among the most popular recommendations, Schnurer and Linda Rhodes, Public Works senior vice president, said.
“We found with different police departments, they found it very helpful,” Rhodes said. “It became a bridge with the community. One chief used it as a way of floating ideas before they would implement them.”

Members of Just Voices Iowa and Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement felt a sweeping report issued by the city gave them momentum to finally get a third-party policing review board created by the Des Moines City Council.

On April 27, the city released a review from Pennsylvania-based public works consultant Public Works LLC, which found the Des Moines Police Department should collect and report data on all pedestrian and traffic stops, not just those resulting in citations or arrests, and then analyze and share the data collected.
The company helps cities create policy proposals for issues ranging from education to health care and workforce development.
“It felt like Christmas,” said Lori Young, communications director for Just Voices Iowa. “They recommended so many things that the community has been demanding for years.”
In focus groups conducted by Public Works LLC, the idea of a civilian review board that would both advise the department and review investigations of officer misconduct was among the most popular recommendations, according to the report. 

Recommendations in a new report, which echo earlier calls from activists on racial profiling and other issues, can help police build community trust.

The 207-page document was condensed into 23 recommendations (pages 143 and 144), grouped by core attribute categories: Accountable, Analytic, Transparency and Actionable.


The DMPD collects limited data on stops that result in a warning, citation or arrest. Public Works recommends that officers collect data on all stops, capture race and gender, and add calls for service, crime/offense and use of force data.


DMPD performs little analysis on data it collects. Public Works recommends the department establish and staff a Data Analysis Unit, analyze stop data, and produce an annual report for the public.


Currently, the DMPD produces an annual Statistical Report of two or three pages. Public Works recommends a comprehensive “Annual State of Policing and Public Safety Report,” plus changes to the DMPD website to enable interactivity and allow the public to easily filter and analyze policing data.


DMPD does not currently have a strategic plan. Public Works recommends creation of a three- to five-year strategic plan that includes a focus on data accountability, analytics, transparency, and actionability as stated in the Law Enforcement Data Report.
Just like the advocacy groups, Public Works also recommends creation of a Community Advisory and Review Board. The board would be made up of diverse community members, advocates and stakeholders and would “review and collaborate with DMPD on matters of public safety and community well-being.” Also recommended: a Behavioral and Mental Health Work Group “to inform ongoing data analysis and efficacy regarding crisis response and diversion efforts.”