Bloomington annual safety report: Crime down overall, pandemic impact felt, fire and police chiefs to dig into data on response times, race disparities

On Tuesday morning, Bloomington’s police and fire chiefs, along with the director of community and family resources department, delivered the city’s state of public safety report.

The presentation of such a report has been made an annual event by Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton.  It is slotted ahead of the mayor’s state of the city address, which is scheduled this year for Thursday, Feb. 25.

Bloomington’s year in public safety for 2020 showed the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bloomington police made just 3,813 traffic stops in 2020 compared to 9,112 in 2019.  The total calls for service to police dropped 15 percent from 54,065 in 2019 to 45,947 in 2020.

Fire department efforts toward fire safety community education suffered due to the pandemic.. Community education contacts, like station tours, dropped in 2020 to a third of their 2019 levels, from 10,634 to 3,436.

Hamilton previewed the three presentations by framing them with some of his top issues: gun crimes, fire rescues, and efforts to divert people away from the criminal justice system. Continue reading “Bloomington annual safety report: Crime down overall, pandemic impact felt, fire and police chiefs to dig into data on response times, race disparities”

City council OKs contract with Bloomington firefighters, different longevity pay a highlight

At its meeting on Wednesday, the Bloomington city council approved a four-year collective bargaining agreement with International Association of Fire Fighters Local 586 that runs through 2024.

For a firefighter first class, the agreement calls for a 1-percent raise in 2021 to $54,625 in base pay. A 2-percent raise each year after that, through 2024, brings a firefighter’s base pay to $57,969.

According to a memo from the city’s corporation counsel, Philippa Guthrie, the city will be compensating firefighters by a total of about $2 million more, over the four-year term of the contract.

At the city council’s public safety committee review of the contract on Dec. 9, one concern raised by councilmember Jim Sims was about the diversity of the fire department. Fire chief Jason Moore reported a current department profile of about 5 percent women, and between 3 to 4 percent Black and or people of color.

Moore said that the department is working to recruit a more diverse pool of applicants, in part by supporting the Hoosier Hills Career Center in the Monroe County Community School Corporation and the Ivy Tech fire science program.

The numbers reported by Moore square up with the 2018 numbers in the department’s diversity profile that is available through the city’s B Clear data portal.

Translating the 2018 percentages into numbers, five out of 109 BFD employees in 2018 were women, two were Black, five were veterans and 25 had bachelor’s degrees. The average age was about 44 and they had an average of about 15 years of service. Continue reading “City council OKs contract with Bloomington firefighters, different longevity pay a highlight”

Budget 2020: Bloomington fire chief points to improvements in fire call and response time stats, says situation now too fluid to put timeline on new stations

The 10-year capital plan for Bloomington’s fire department includes two additional fire stations—one in the southwest and one in the southeast part of town. It also includes the replacement of two existing stations, and a relocation of the station that serves the Indiana University campus.

Those five stations together have an estimated cost of $28 million, and the three additional fire engines they’ll house will add another $1.8 million.

But those costs aren’t pegged to any particular year in the 10-year plan. So they’re not a part of the proposed $13.25 million budget for 2020, which Bloomington’s fire chief, Jason Moore, presented to the city council on Tuesday night.

Responding to a councilmember question about the timeframe for building new stations,  Moore said, “To start making decisions when everything is so fluid, I feel would be rushed and ill-advised. So we will be making recommendations when it’s appropriate and when the entire big picture of public safety can be really painted crystal clear for everyone.”

Moore also told the council that additional improvements in response times would likely depend on adding staff and stations. Continue reading “Budget 2020: Bloomington fire chief points to improvements in fire call and response time stats, says situation now too fluid to put timeline on new stations”