On Tuesday, June 30, the Monroe County Council is holding a special meeting to address community concerns about law enforcement resources. The session on Zoom begins at 6 p.m. and will be facilitated by Latosha Williams, associate director for residence life student conduct at Indiana University.
Meeting details, including the agenda and Zoom link, are here.
The seven-member Monroe County Council is responsible for appropriating all funds for county use. The council adopts the county budget – including the sheriff's office budget – fixes the county tax rate, and has exclusive power to borrow money for the county.
In the wake of security concerns at the Bloomington Community Farmers' Market and other public venues, local activists with Moms Demand Action are hoping businesses take steps to create a gun-free environment.
Organizations can legally prevent people from entering their premises with a firearm. Indiana Criminal Trespass Statute (IN Code 35-43-2-2) allows businesses to deny entry if the business has posted a sign citing this specific code.
Several local businesses have already taken this step. Bloomingfoods, for example, displays a sign at its entrance stating, in part: "We deny entry to anyone carrying a firearm."
Bloomington residents Rachel Guglielmo and Susan Ellenwood are members of Moms Demand Action. They've been working to increase the number of businesses that are willing to ban firearms. They're also working with the Bloomington Police Department to educate officers about their role in helping enforce this prohibition.
Last year, Bloom Magazine and White Rabbit Copy Service & Digital Printing partnered to create signs that they offered free of charge.
On the national level, more business leaders are calling on Congress to act. CEOs of 145 corporations – including Twitter, Uber and Levi Strauss – recently sent a letter to Senate leaders urging stronger gun controls. Walmart, the country's largest employer, announced it will stop selling certain ammunition and guns, and is discouraging "open carry" in its stores. Other major retailers, including Kroger, CVS and Walgreens, are doing the same.
For more information, check out the Moms Demand Action – Indiana Facebook page. Or contact the group by emailing email@example.com.
The Bloomington Police Department is planning to open a crisis diversion center as a way to decrease crime in the city, according to police chief Mike Diekhoff.
Diekhoff described the effort during an Aug. 20 budget hearing before Bloomington City Council.
In his presentation, Diekhoff indicated that one of BPD's goals is to establish an "evidence-based, police-led diversion program to assist in rehabilitation or services as a preference over incarceration for non-violent offenders."
Diekhoff said discussions in the past several months have focused on where to house such a program. He estimated the center would cost about $700,000 to operate annually. He said the city has held discussions with Monroe County and private businesses on this project, and has applied for grants to help support it financially. After a location is established, he said, "then we can move forward with actually doing pre-arrest diversion work."
Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith (District 5) expressed support for the center. "I think this is a very smart innovation that has worked well in other communities to keep people whose issues are really not with the law but with mental health, with addictions – to keep those out of our jail and to get them the help they need."
Click here to view their discussion on CATS. Click here to view slides from the chief's presentation.
Monroe County government is currently undertaking a study of its criminal justice system. A diversion center is being considered for that effort.
Mayor John Hamilton and Cortland Carrington III, owner of American Mushroom & Spice Co., were interviewed by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore for the Chamber's 3 Things podcast, sharing their thoughts about the Bloomington Community Farmers Market.
The mayor talked with Erin about steps the city is taking to make the market more secure in the wake of increasing threats to public safety. Those threats came from escalating tensions between supporters of white nationalists and the owners of the Schooner Creek Farm, and counter-protesters who have been advocating for the removal of Schooner Creek Farm for their ties to white supremacist groups. This tension prompted the city to suspend the farmers market for the first two Saturdays in August.
On Tuesday, Aug. 13, Mayor Hamilton announced plans to reopen the market with additional security measures in place. Read his statement here.
Cortland Carrington described his experiences as a vendor and member of the city's Farmers Market Advisory Council. He talked about the impact of this situation on his business, what he's seen at the market in recent months, and reactions from other vendors to this controversy.
Click here to listen to 3 Things on Apple Podcasts – or subscribe to 3 Things on your favorite podcast service.
Have an idea for a future 3 Things topic or guest? Contact Erin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Learn about the operations of the Bloomington Police Department and our community's criminal justice system by participating in the Bloomington Citizens Police Academy.
Sessions will be held on Tuesday evenings from 6-8:30 p.m. starting on Sept. 10 through Nov. 19. Topics include patrol techniques, domestic violence, driving while intoxicated, criminal investigations, drug enforcement, firearms training and more. The academy also includes the opportunity to do a ride-along with a patrol officer.
You must be at least 18 years old to participate, and background checks will be conducted on all applicants.
Applications are due by Friday, Aug. 30. Click here to apply.
Monroe County government is undertaking a comprehensive review of our local criminal justice system, including the jail, courts, community corrections, probation department, law enforcement agencies, the prosecuting attorney's office and public defenders.
The county Board of Commissioners has hired consultants to lead the project: Kenneth Ray of Restorative Justice Services; criminal justice consultant Allen Beck; and former Dept. of Justice attorneys Eve Hill and Regina Kline of Inclusivity Strategic Consulting, which focuses on civil rights and inclusion for persons with disabilities. The contracts total $212,000 for this phase.
Upcoming public forums are being held to get input from the community, facilitated by the Monroe County Human Rights Commission and the Community Justice and Mediation Center:
The county recently issued a press release to describe this effort. Here's an excerpt:
The Correctional Center is an aging facility (built in the 1980s). It was originally built to house 128 people. Renovations have increased the maximum capacity, so that there are now 284 permanent beds. The population, or number of people in the Center, often exceeds the number of permanent beds.
No Monroe County leader wants to spend taxpayer dollars to, simply, build a bigger jail with more cell space to house more people.
Monroe County leaders DO want to give meaning to and emphasize the word CORRECTION in the name CORRECTIONAL Center, because human lives are at stake. Those lives include not only the people in the Correctional Center, but also their families, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
The criminal justice system affects not just the lives mentioned above, but affects anyone who lives, works or visits Monroe County. The criminal justice system, truly, affects the quality of life in Monroe County, and how well it works really matters.
With that in mind, Monroe County leaders intend to look at everything we do related to criminal justice, to identify strengths and gaps in our services. Essentially, Monroe County is going to take a good, long look at our criminal justice system to identify what we are doing well and on what we can improve.
Read the county's full press release here.
If you've ever wondered "How can I influence what happens in this community?" - or even if you haven't - here's one answer: Volunteer for a city advisory group. The Chamber encourages our members to get involved, as a way to give input on local policies that affect our city.
Each month we highlight a few current board/commission vacancies. The June 2019 vacancies include:
Parking Commission: Three seats are posted as vacant on the Bloomington Parking Commission. Among other things, this 9-member group works on developing parking policy that supports the city's comprehensive plan. (What's the comprehensive plan? Find out here.) The Parking Commission's next meeting is a work session on Thursday, June 13. Click here to apply.
Traffic Commission. Keeping with the transit theme, the city's 9-member Traffic Commission also has three vacancies. The group hears traffic-related complaints, makes recommendations on improving traffic conditions, and gives input on enforcing traffic regulations. Its next meeting is Wednesday, June 26. Click here to apply.
Board of Public Safety. This 5-member board, which oversees the police and fire departments, has one vacancy. All positions are appointed by the mayor. Its next meeting is Tuesday, June 18. Click here to apply.
Check out this site for information on other city vacancies and how to apply. After applying, members must be appointed to each board or commission by the Mayor, the Common Council, or another board or commission. And FYI: City residency is required for membership on most of the boards and commissions.
Director of Advocacy & Public Policy