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Yaël Ksander
Communications Director

Mayor Proposes Creation of Innovative Public Safety Positions

Bloomington, Ind. - Mayor John Hamilton announces the proposed addition of five full-time positions to enhance and maintain public safety in Bloomington. The positions, which will be included in the 2019 budget being presented to City Council and the community during the week of August 20, would be shared between the City’s Police Department (BPD) and the Community and Family Resources Department (CFRD).  

Based on recommendations from the Safety, Civility and Justice Task Force and informed by the Guardian model of community policing, the mayor proposes three new positions of non-sworn staff at the BPD, including a social worker and two neighborhood resource specialists, as well as an after-hours ambassador position to be created in CFRD. The mayor also will propose that one sworn officer be added to the police force, reflecting the continuing growth of the city’s population.

The four non-sworn positions the mayor seeks to create will prioritize connection, collaboration, and strengthening trust between residents and law enforcement personnel, and prioritize proactive community policing as opposed to reactive crime response, as found in the best modern policing. The new social worker at BPD will provide services such as crisis intervention, mediation, and referrals, as well as supporting victims of crime and preempting criminal behavior. The social worker’s role may extend to providing training and consultation to police officers, and mental health services to police officers and their families. Discussion is currently underway about the possibility of partnering with the Indiana University School of Social Work to implement an internship program at the BPD, to be directed by the department’s social worker.  

The two new neighborhood resource specialist positions within the BPD will extend the department’s ability to provide services and support directly to residents and local groups. The neighborhood resource specialists will serve as a point of contact for residents and neighborhood associations and a liaison to police and other City services. Other responsibilities may include checking on the welfare of residents who are elderly or have special needs, addressing conflicts between neighbors, and responding to and reporting on code and nuisance violations. These additions to the police force are expected to base their operations out of the new BPD substation to be located at the north end of Switchyard Park, as it becomes available in late 2019.

The after-hours ambassador would serve as liaison to the city’s robust dining, arts and entertainment, and hospitality industries and their clientele, much of which is operational outside of traditional working hours. Cities with vibrant nightlife have in recent years discovered the value of adding this position to their public safety personnel for a 6:00 p.m.-2:00 a.m. shift.  Alternately known as the “night mayor” or “nightlife ambassador” in such cities as Austin, Texas and Iowa City, this public safety official would provide additional eyes and ears after dark. With street-level perspective on nightlife activities, downtown and elsewhere, the after-hours ambassador also would serve as a point-of-contact for business owners, cultural purveyors, city government, and residents in matters relating to the active evening hours; and be a host and ally to all residents, students, and visitors, regardless of income, education or housing status, when out at night.

Adding one sworn officer to the BPD continues a pattern of growing the police force in proportion to the city’s population increases. As the BPD continues its implementation of the 21st-Century Policing Report guidelines -- designed to strengthen community policing and trust -- and continues its pursuit of national accreditation, another sworn officer on the force helps meet the expectations of our community for well-trained and professional law enforcement services on a 24/7 basis.

The addition of these five positions will have an estimated annual budget impact of approximately $325,000.

“Adding these new positions reflects our belief that building trust and forging connections are the best ways to increase safety, civility and justice in our city,” said Hamilton. “Increasing our capacity to listen and respond to residents’ needs can improve individual outcomes and reduce future encounters with law enforcement. We look forward to working with the City Council and welcome additional public input to define and continue to refine the roles these new staff members can most effectively play.”