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Downtown Resources Officer Program Named Winner Of 2016 Human Rights Award
Updated February 9, 2016 6:50 AM
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(BLOOMINGTON) - ­​The Bloomington Human Rights Commission has chosen the Downtown Resources Officer (DRO) program as the recipient of its 2016 Human Rights Award. The award is intended to recognize individuals or groups who have made specific, significant contributions to improving civil rights, human relations or civility in our community.

The Bloomington Police Department launched the DRO initiative in 2014, with the intent to do more than arrest, release and re­arrest high­risk individuals. Instead, they developed a more holistic approach to helping individuals experiencing homelessness. Often, DROs make the connections between individuals experiencing homelessness and the appropriate social service agency to assist with each individual's unique needs. The program has significantly reduced calls for service, arrests and emergency room visits.

People experiencing homelessness have said that before they got to know the downtown resource officers ­ sometimes called "white shirts" ­ they were afraid of the police. Now they see the DROs as resources and allies, instead of a threat.

"The DRO program certainly deserves this honor," says Mayor John Hamilton. "This is human relations at its finest. The officers who have volunteered to serve as DROs work one­ on­o ne, individual to individual, to combat the challenges of homelessness daily. It is a model that works for Bloomington, and an effort of which we can be proud."

Byron Bangert, the chair of the BHRC, will presented the award to the Bloomington Police Department during the February 3 Bloomington Common Council meeting.

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