Opinion: Bloomington is 52% serious about gun crime

In mid-February, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton, and chief of police, Mike Diekhoff, among others, appeared at a press conference to present the city’s annual public safety report.

What is obviously missing from this chart?

The event was framed by Hamilton like this: “By sharing public data about the full range of public safety issues, we embrace accountability, …to identify persistent problems in order to address them transparently.”

One statistic reported in February was that 2020 showed a 52-percent increase, compared to 2019, in the number of cases where a gun was used to perpetrate a crime.

That’s a big jump.

Like other news outlets, The Square Beacon included that percentage figure in its report of the press conference.

Not long after The Square Beacon’s article was published, a reader asked: So what were the actual numbers of gun crimes each year? Long story short: Nobody seems to know.

Of course, the reader’s question was a fair one. It’s a question The Square Beacon should have asked without prodding from a reader.

After a phone call with the police records division, two formal records requests under Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act, and email correspondence that included the legal department, the mayor, the deputy mayor, the city’s communications director, the president of the city council, and the chief of police, all of which stretched over about three months, the reader’s question remains unanswered.

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