DES MOINES, Iowa -- Last week’s Dallas attacks came after two black men in two different states were killed by police.
While protestors around the country march in hope for justice, a local anti-violence group says Iowans need to remember to hold local law enforcement agencies accountable.
“It goes beyond marches and protests. We`ve done those for years. It goes into changing laws and trying to make policies,” says Calvetta Williams, founder of Mothers Against Violence.
That’s exactly what Williams’ organization is doing. The group is drafting a new policy on how to improve medical care for criminals in custody.
The call for action comes after Lamont Walls was found unresponsive in his cell at the Polk County Jail on March 25.
Two days prior, police attempted to arrest him due to his involvement in a drug investigation, but Walls took off running. Before eventually arresting him, police say they saw him swallowing a bag of drugs. Walls told police he didn't swallow anything but was still taken to Methodist Hospital for evaluation. He was released the same day. An autopsy later found nine baggies of heroin in Walls' stomach.
Mothers Against Violence question the policies of the Polk County Sheriff's Office and hospital when it comes to medical attention while in custody. Methodist is declining to comment on its patient protocol.
“I just felt that they neglected [the situation]. If they thought he swallowed drugs they should have made him get his stomach pumped,” says Williams. “When you can save a life, rules should be put in place in order to save that person`s life.”
The policy change letter will be sent to the sheriff’s office and the Des Moines Police Department. A spokesperson with the agency told Channel 13 it’s currently reviewing all of its policies and is open to any changes but add the process to change policy is time-consuming.
However, activists say they’ll wait.
“You know we`re angry. We can’t just stay angry. If we’re going to save another life we have to put in the work,” says Williams.
Mothers Against Violence is also working with the City of Des Moines Human Rights Commissioner as well as a lawyer to draft the policy. They plan to have a first draft written within the next couple of weeks.