Vote to create new commission on public safety set for Wednesday meeting of Bloomington’s city council

On Wednesday (Nov. 18), Bloomington’s city council will be voting on the question of establishing a new 11-member commission with the name: Community Advisory on Public Safety (CAPS) Commission.

The new commission would have the goal to “increase the safety of all Bloomington community members, especially those often marginalized due to race, disability, gender, sexual identity, or sexual orientation.”

The idea for the commission grew out of a national conversation about different approaches to policing that emerged this last summer.

In May, George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man was killed by a Minneapolis police officer who pinned him down with a knee-on-neck hold, which was documented on video. That came after Breonna Taylor, a 26-year-old Black woman was killed by Louisville police officers in March. They were serving a no-knock search warrant shortly after midnight.

Response to national events was localized over the summer in the form of demonstrations, public meetings, and scrutiny of local area law enforcement. Bloomington police department statistics on use of force and arrests show a disparate impact on the Black community.

Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith, a co-sponsor of the ordinance that would establish the CAPS commission, said at a meeting of the council’s four-member public safety committee in late October: “We have heard from many constituents that members of our community do not feel safe. They’ve told us this in emails, conversations, petitions, and public meetings.”

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