(BLOOMINGTON) – Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton joined Bloomington’s public safety directors to deliver the fifth annual State of Public Safety report presentation via video conference this morning.
The public presentation showcased the progress made toward shared goals for public safety by the Bloomington Police Department (BPD), the Bloomington Fire Department (BFD), and the Community and Family Resources Department (CFRD).
Tuesday’s report highlighted a nearly seven percent decrease in overall crime in the City in 2020 and the fourth straight year of no fire-related fatalities within city limits. Mayor Hamilton first introduced the annual Public Safety Report to the community in 2017 as part of a City-wide effort to establish greater transparency and accountability in government functions and services.
The presentation is posted at the City’s website here.
After 2020’s historic protests of systemic racism and advocacy for police reform, Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff shared BPD’s rigorous training protocols, public engagement, and innovative and evolving approach to public safety. Diekhoff outlined how the addition of a social worker and two neighborhood specialists in 2019, to be augmented by the addition of two more social workers and two more specialists during the coming year, helps deepen community connections. Diekhoff described the opening of the new Stride crisis diversion center in July 2020 to help connect those in need with services and resources. Since 2018, the BPD has had the highest level accreditation among police agencies in the country, recognized through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.
Diekhoff welcomed a nearly seven percent annual decrease in overall crime during 2020 including a 20% decrease in crimes against persons, but acknowledged a continuing serious concern with increasing gun violence. Diekhoff cited a 52% increase in the use of a gun in connection with a crime in 2020 and a 150% increase in gun permit applications, figures consistent with national trends but very concerning.
CFRD Director Beverly Calender-Anderson elaborated how the City works outside of traditional law enforcement to make Bloomington a safer and more caring place. Calender-Anderson summarized City efforts since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic caring for those in need through the mayor’s social services task force, which she served as City liaison. Through this group and its related entities, the City partnered to assure food, housing, child care and direct services to those in need during the pandemic. Ongoing efforts toward housing security included establishing the Monroe County Safe Recovery Site–for those without a home needing to isolate due to COVID symptoms or a diagnosis–the Winter Contingency Shelter for Women (operated by Wheeler Mission), the recent expansion of Beacon’s low barrier shelter, and other community partnerships to provide long term solutions for those without homes in the community. Calender-Anderson also highlighted the City’s ongoing work with the Divided Communities Project in establishing a community-led task force on racial equity and another dedicated to the future of policing.
During his presentation, BFD Chief Jason Moore noted the department’s record of zero fire-related fatalities in Bloomington over four years, during which time the department has made ten saves-of-life. Moore described the BFD’s fleet of emergency vehicles as in the best condition in nearly two decades, and pointed to an evaluation in coming years of needed repairs and replacements of the City’s fire stations. Since 2017, the BFD has earned an ISO rating of 2, placing it in the top one percent of the state’s and the top two percent of the nation’s fire departments.