One area the Chamber has regularly advocated for is the healthy, fully funded Bloomington Police Department (BPD). The city has been consistently understaffed from the 105 uniform officers that have been budgeted. The last figure I saw was 84 with an additional number of officers out for medical and military reasons pulling that figure down to under 80 working the streets.
Having spoken about public safety during multiple public meetings, I felt as if I needed to know more. Sure, I have had discussions with rank-and-file officers but was that enough? Luckily, the Citizen’s Police Academy is back for a second year after a COVID hiatus. This will provide me with the necessary background and opportunities to ask questions about where I can be a better advocate.
My background and interactions have not always been positive with law enforcement officials. Before moving to Bloomington, they could be deemed as “negative”. That had changed long before my role in the Chamber. There is a reason BPD is not involved in civil cases, writing large checks out in civil matters. We have a police force that is well-trained, courteous, and wanting to serve the public. When I go to the podium, I try to denote that my comments are not an endorsement of the culture and behaviors of the police but that of that of Bloomington. Nothing I say lessens or diminishes the sullied history of law enforcement in this country. The Chamber looks to the BPD as the model for the State and the country.
Right now, I am four weeks into the program. I have learned a lot about what goes into policing in Bloomington. There is a reason the program is 10 Mondays, 2.5 hours per session. From hour one, they showed me and my cohort how they have worked to bring the culture to the force that represents the values of this community. I admit during Deputy Chief Oldham's presentation I welled up. They take public safety in this community seriously and that requires the right officers. Other areas such as learning about the difficulty in policing domestic violence, being in a police vehicle obstacle course, and how embedded social workers have been a model component for other departments around the state provided further proof. I hope to do a drive-along in all three shifts to get a first-hand look at what goes on behind the scenes.
Below is the Academy Schedule
The Monroe County Community School Corporation is asking voters to approve a new referendum this fall. The election, held on November 7th, will seek voters' approval for an 8.5 cent (per $100 assessed evaluation) increase to the current 18.5 cent (per $100 assessed evaluation) referendum rate. While nominally 8.5 cents on the ballot, a combination of new state restrictions and projected property value growth in the county means the realized rate increase will be closer to 3.5 cents. Estimates suggest that the average cost to households would be about $50 with the referendum lasting 8 years.
MCCSC is asking for this increase to support their "Family-Centered, Community Focused" initiative. Estimates from MCCSC suggest that quality preschool programs can cost up to $8000 a year--a barrier for many families. With only half of the 3- and 4-year-olds in the community currently in preschool programs, this two-pronged initiative aims to tackle barriers. This initiative will offer free or affordable Pre-K for all 3- and 4-year-olds in the community and will cover out-of-pocket costs for things like instructional materials, classroom supplies, student technology, AP exam fee, and CTE fees for K-12 students.
My name is Josh Levesque and I am the new Advocacy Fellow here at the Chamber. I am a first-year graduate student at O'Neill working towards a Master of Public Affairs degree. I'm excited to be a part of this great team and organization for the next two years. As a bit of a local government nerd, it's been exciting to settle in these past few weeks and get a sense of the current events here in Bloomington. Prior to grad school, I worked in state and local government for a few years with a primary focus on constituent services and community engagement. During my time here at the Chamber, I'll work to support our advocacy team with research, policy recommendations, engagement, and government relations. I'll also be keeping a close eye on the great things happening in Ellettsville and providing periodic updates.
Outside of school, I'm an avid soccer fan. I play in a couple of different leagues in Indianapolis and love to watch the Premier League on weekends (Go Arsenal!). I'm a bit of an old soul and have a real appreciation for blue and classic rock music. I live in Indianapolis with my partner and our cat. I'm deeply appreciative of the welcoming spirit of the community here and look forward to exploring Bloomington and coming across the many members the Chamber represents. Please don't hesitate to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I can be of any assistance.