Bloomington gets new city commission on public safety with 6–3 city council vote.

At its regular Wednesday meeting, on a  6–3 vote, Bloomington’s city council established a new commission that will be called the Community Advisory on Public Safety (CAPS) commission.

The new commission has 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.”

Dissenting were Jim Sims, Susan Sandberg, and Sue Sgambelluri.

The three are also members of the city council’s standing public safety committee, which reviewed the ordinance at two meetings—one in late October  and another one last week. Their lack of support for the new commission was conveyed by abstentions on the committee’s vote.

As members of the city council’s public safety standing committee, the three who dissented will now share in the committee’s job to make recommendations for appointments to the 11-member CAPS commission. Members are supposed to include Black, Latinx, other people of color, people with disabilities, people who are non-cisgender, and members of other marginalized groups.

Sims, who chairs the council’s public safety committee, told The Square Beacon, “I was in the minority on the vote. The majority wanted this, and it is now my responsibility to participate and make it work.” Continue reading “Bloomington gets new city commission on public safety with 6–3 city council vote.”

Bloomington city commission on public safety pitched by 3 councilmembers, gets lukewarm response from council standing committee

At its meeting last Wednesday, the Bloomington city council’s standing committee on public safety considered an ordinance that would establish a new city commission.

The 11-member commission would be called the Community Advisory on Public Safety Commission, which yields CAPS as an acronym. Its goal, according to the ordinance, would be to “to increase the safety of all Bloomington community members, especially those often marginalized due to race, disability, gender, sexual identity, or sexual orientation.”

According to the ordinance wording, the commission’s membership, which would be appointed by the city council, is to include people who are Black, Latinx, other people of color, people with disabilities, people who are non-cisgender, and members of other marginalized groups.

The ordinance grew in part out of a national movement over the summer that came in response to police violence against Black people, including the killings of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Breonna Taylor in Louisville.

The ordinance creating the commission is sponsored by three councilmembers: Matt Flaherty, Kate Rosenbarger, and Isabel Piedmont-Smith. Of the three, Piedmont-Smith is the one who is a member of the standing committee on public safety. The other three members of the committee are: Jim Sims (chair), Sue Sgambelluri, and Susan Sandberg.

After a couple hours of deliberation on Wednesday, Sims, Sgambelluri, and Sandberg seemed ready to send the proposal back to the full city council without their support—by abstaining from a committee vote.

In the end, they voted to hold another committee meeting on the topic. Continue reading “Bloomington city commission on public safety pitched by 3 councilmembers, gets lukewarm response from council standing committee”

Bloomington city council completes routine maintenance on public safety income tax rate, total still 0.25 percent

At its meeting on Wednesday, Bloomington’s city council completed its annual adjustment to the public safety local income tax (PS-LIT) rate.

The total rate that residents of Monroe County pay on their income for public safety stays the same, which is 0.25 percent.

But the way the rate is split—between funding for the countywide dispatch center and general public safety—was tweaked to fit the 2021 budget request by the dispatch center.

The dispatch center—known as a public safety answering point, or PSAP—needed $2,247,490 in PS-LIT revenue for its 2021 budget. The rate corresponding to that amount, based on estimates released in September by the state’s department of revenue, is 0.0594 percent.

The remaining revenue, generated by the other 0.1906 of the 0.25 total rate gets divided by city, county and town governments for general public safety purposes.

That’s a smidgen higher rate for general public safety purposes than last year’s 0.1846 percent, due to a slight decrease in the dispatch center’s overall budget.

Continue reading “Bloomington city council completes routine maintenance on public safety income tax rate, total still 0.25 percent”

Bloomington public safety report: 2019 was “tough year” with a few bright spots

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Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, introduces the public safety report for 2020 on Tuesday morning at Bloomington Police Department headquarters on 3rd Street. (Dave Askins/Square Beacon)

On Tuesday morning, Bloomington officials presented the city’s 2020 public safety report, a summary of activity and outcomes for the 2019 calendar year.

Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, introduced the three presenters: police chief Mike Diekhoff; community and family resources director Beverly Calender-Anderson; and fire chief Jason Moore.

Hamilton called 2019 a “tough year” because of rises in gun violence and violent crime. Against that, mayor pointed to increased funding for programs that are meant to de-escalate situations before they become violent, the new social worker who works in the police department, the new crisis diversion center, and a new substation in Switchyard Park.

Despite the increase in violent crime, the overall crime rate for the city of Bloomington decreased by 4.7 percent in 2019, it was reported on Tuesday morning. Continue reading “Bloomington public safety report: 2019 was “tough year” with a few bright spots”