At the close of the 2021 legislative session, the Iowa General Assembly approved a bill intended to provide various benefits and protections for Iowa law enforcement officials. The bill, also known as the “Back the Blue” bill, includes provisions relating to the redaction of public records for the protection of current and former law enforcement professionals.
Included in the legislation was a new provision that requires county recorders to set up process for redacting, upon request, the names of law enforcement personnel which appear in electronic documents posted for public access through an internet site. Per the code, “Upon request by a peace officer, as defined in section 801.4, civilian employee of a law enforcement agency, or state or federal judicial officer or state or federal prosecutor, the county assessor or the county assessor’s staff, or the county recorder or the county recorder’s staff, shall redact the requestor’s name contained in electronic documents that are displayed for public access through an internet site.”
This applies to the Iowa Land Records website and any web site managed or overseen by an individual county. Iowa County Recorders and Iowa Land Recorders support first responders and acted quickly to implement the policy laid out in the Code of Iowa 331.604, developing a standard process and Redaction Request Form that can be used by eligible current or former law enforcement officials to request the redaction of specific land records that are posted on the web.
Current or former peace officers, as well as other qualifying parties defined in section 801.4 of the Iowa Code, may request that their names be redacted from certain electronic documents recorded in an Iowa county. Eligible current or former law enforcement officials include certain civilian employees of law enforcement agencies, state or federal judicial officers, or state or federal prosecutors.
Anyone eligible for redaction services must complete the appropriate form and return it to their local county recorder. The county recorder then reviews the form and if the request is approved the form is provided to Iowa Land Records to remove the requested documents from public view on the Iowa Land Records portal website. The documents are then redacted via the Iowa Land Records redaction process. The redacted documents are returned to the counties and then made public again on the Iowa Land Records website. As of December 31,2021 51 current or former peace officers have requested this service, and 538 documents have been redacted.