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Downtown Safety, Civility and Justice Task Force Update

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
April 27, 2017

For more information, please contact:

Beverly Calender-Anderson, Director of Community and Family Resources Department, andersb@bloomington.in.gov, 812-349-3560

Downtown Safety, Civility and Justice Task Force Update

Bloomington, Ind. - In August Mayor John Hamilton announced six steps designed to respond to concerns about the safety and civility of the downtown area and to promote long-term initiatives encouraging opportunities, fairness and justice. One of those steps was the establishment of the Downtown Safety and Civility Dialogue and Deliberation Project through the Community and Justice Mediation Center (CJAM). Their work was completed in January and was then shared with a group also established as part of Mayor Hamilton's August announcement, the Safety, Civility and Justice Task Force (SCJTF).

The SCJTF is comprised of social service providers, downtown business owners, law enforcement and members of the public. It was tasked with studying the results of the CJAM process, best practices and other research and submitting recommendations to Mayor Hamilton by May.

The SCJTF has presented several interim recommendations including four priority areas and one additional recommendation:

  1. Jobs Program
    Develop a jobs program with Parks and Recreation to hire clients of local nonprofit agencies to help clean parks and public areas, weed planters, etc. Successful programs in other communities will serve as examples and can be studied for best practices.

  2. Parks Activities
    Increase programming and activities in People's Park, including by waiving fees for park usage by non-profits and student groups who desire to hold events in the park and for food cart vendors during events.

  3. Increase "official" presence along Kirkwood and in the downtown area.
    a. Increase visible official presence from trained Bloomington Police Department (BPD), Downtown Resource Officers and parking enforcement during the day.
    b. Hire and train Indiana University part-time officers by BPD for added presence at times designated by BPD.
    c. Consider implementing an "ambassador" program that would contribute to safety, cleaning, hospitality and outreach services in designated areas. Investigate the cost benefit of developing a homegrown ambassador program versus working with an established program.

  4. Enforcement
    a. Encourage BPD and the Indiana Excise Police to continue to work together monitoring bars and other establishments that serve and sell alcohol for overpouring, selling to minors, and selling to those already intoxicated.
    b. Continue direct communication between the City (the Mayor and/or his representatives) and owners of establishments that serve and sell alcohol to communicate expectations regarding public safety and civility.
  5. Other
    Mayor Hamilton is encouraged to convene meetings with representatives from the Department of Corrections, mayors from surrounding counties, and perhaps others to discuss the impact their practices are having on Bloomington.

In response to receiving these recommendations, Mayor Hamilton stated: "This issue of a safe, civil and just community for all is very important to me and everyone in our community. We want a community that works for people from all walks of life and facing many different challenges and opportunities. It's complex and challenging. It's going to take dialogue and hard work, and experimentation and continued feedback and attention to detail. I greatly appreciate these recommendations from the Task Force. They result from many hours of research, study, community input and discussion with several dedicated groups and individuals. The initial recommendations appear practical and, along with efforts already in process, outline the beginning of a good plan.

"Staff and other involved individuals will need to react promptly to the initial recommendations and help flesh out many details such as how many individuals will be able to participate in a jobs program and how many additional hours of public safety professional time should be added, among others. I look forward to additional recommendations from the Task Force in the coming weeks, but anticipate getting to work on interim ideas as quickly as practical.

"As I stated last August, public safety and public justice are fundamental and we will continue to improve them. Not everything we try will work, but we will continue to pursue every avenue available to us to make our city a safe, civil and just environment for all. I look forward to continued robust engagement from the community as we work together toward this common goal for our beloved city."

Director of the City of Bloomington's Community and Family Resources Department Beverly Calender-Anderson commented, "The City's role is to balance the needs of all community members, to open our arms and minds to solve challenges together. The Task Force is attempting to do that in a way that helps disenfranchised members of our community while creating an environment that is safe and pleasant for families, visitors or anyone wanting to access downtown amenities."

Members of the Safety, Civility and Justice Task Force are:

William J. Beggs, Chair

Talisha Coppock

Forrest Gilmore

Donald Griffin, Jr.

Linda Grove-Paul

Wendy Hernandez

Barry Lessow

Randy Lloyd

Susan Rinne

Kirk White

Staff: Beverly Calender-Anderson, Chief Michael Diekhoff

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