Under provisions of the legislation, a law enforcement officer would not be found liable in any action for damages in an individual capacity if the state law was not sufficiently clear so that the officer would have understood the conduct was a violation of the Constitution or any other law, or the law was not clearly established at the time of the incident giving rise to the claim against the officer.
The burden would be on the plaintiff to show that the law enforcement officer violated a clearly established constitutional or statutory right and the officer’s employing agency would not be liable if the officer was found not to be liable under the new provision.
Also, the bill’s language would supplant any other law that would provide less protection to a law enforcement officer.
“We’re not here today to try to create something new,” said Sen. Dan Dawson, R-Council Bluffs, “we’re trying to preserve the current law of the land right now because there are a slew of political actors out there that have decided in making kicking law enforcement in their teeth a hobby every day.”
Senate File 476 also would make changes to the current provisions of the peace officers’ bill of rights and expand confidentiality of certain information in law enforcement and judicial settings.
Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines, argued that rather than making a “symbolic gesture at best” by passing language that was “almost certainly unconstitutional,” the Legislature would do better in passing “all due care” language included in a recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling.