Mason City, Iowa – Cerro Gordo County Attorney Carlyle Dalen deals with court cases involving interference with official acts often.
“My job is to review the charge to see if its appropriate charge, and then file what’s trial information which is the official charging document for any type of situation where there’s a criminal act in Cerro Gordo County,” said Dalen.
Dalen says this new bill could make his job in finding what exactly fits the charge a lot easier.
“And so now if somebody resists or obstructs law enforcement in the scope of their duty and it results in bodily injury to law enforcement or it causes serious injury now there are sections that will apply to that,” said Dalen.
But more than a dozen lawmakers are fighting the change.
One of them – Democratic State Representative Mary Wolfe of Clinton, says the brunt of this new law would fall on minorities.
In a state with a black population around three percent, 27 percent of those convicted with official acts are black.
She says increasing the penalty for that crime would only make that number rise.
And, Mason City’s Human Rights Commission Director, Lionel Foster agrees lawmakers do have a responsibility to consider a law’s ramifications.
“Our judicial system and law enforcement should really study the effects or possible effects on different groups of individuals before they pass the law,” said Foster.
Foster says this could especially be an issue in parts of Iowa where minorities are not a larger part of the population – and police will have to use more discretion.
“If you have law enforcement over there who have a culture issue with an individual, let’s say Hispanics, they may approach those individuals different from a Caucasian,” said Foster.
But in the end Dalen says its boils down to guarding all of those involved.
“And we want to make sure that’s a safe situation and both parties are protected and i think this law does protect both,” said Dalen.