NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Eric Spoonmore was published in the March 10, 2023 edition of the Bloomington Herald-Times.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce believes the most fundamental role of government is to protect the safety and well-being of all residents. In January, I addressed the Bloomington City Council to express concern about what seemed to be an increasing number of high-profile crimes in the community over the past several months including rape, stabbings, shootings, attempted murders, murders and other violent behaviors.
In February, the city of Bloomington delivered its annual State of Public Safety report to the community, which confirmed violent crime in the city has increased by nearly 6% over last year. Any increase in crime rates — and particularly violent crime rates — is of significant concern to the business community.
It is also important to recognize that the increase in violent crime in our community is not solely a policing issue; much of the problem can be attributed to a lack of public health investments in addiction and mental health services. The Chamber fully supports the law enforcement agencies who make many sacrifices each day to protect and serve our city, working tirelessly around the clock to keep residents and businesses safe. We recognize that police work is difficult and that many communities around the nation are experiencing significant police officer shortages. The Bloomington Police Department (BPD) is currently understaffed by nearly 20 sworn officers.
NOTE: This interview with the President & CEO, Eric Spoonmore was originally aired by WGCL Glass in the Afternoon on Monday, March 6th, 2023.
NOTE: This article with featuring Government Relations Manager, Jim Shelton, was originally published on March 6, 2023 in the Indiana Daily Student by Marissa Meador.
Amid continued opposition from members of the public, the Community Justice Response Committee for Monroe County met again on Monday to move forward with plans for a new county jail. The committee was initially formed in May 2021 to review reports that described poor conditions in the jail and currently meets two times per month.
Built in 1986, the jail was described as having “far exceeded its structural and functional life cycle” in one of the consultant reports. Since then, there has been little movement on the push for a new jail, with the previous plan of building a jail in the southwest corner of the city failing to receive approval from the Bloomington City Council.
A key player in the opposition movement is local advocacy group Care Not Cages, which hosted a block party in front of the courthouse in advance of the meeting. The event recognized this week as the Week Against Mass Incarceration and hosted Jauston Huerta, the director of Forever On Course United in Solidarity Initiatives, as a speaker. FOCUS Initiatives is an Indiana-based organization that aims to help people transition out of prison life and re-enter society.
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