Bloomington officials taking action against destructive and illegal behavior in public spaces

BLOOMINGTON – Bloomington, like most cities, experiences a certain amount of destructive and illegal behaviors, many of them happening in or on parks, streets, sidewalks, and other public spaces.

City officials say this threatens public health and safety and compromises the whole community’s ability to use and/or benefit from these shared spaces.

In recent months the city has received an uptick in complaints about:

  • camping overnight in parks, in the right of way, and in flood-prone areas
  • public intoxication leading to violence or destructive behavior
  • vandalism, graffiti and other damage to public and private property
  • vehicle break-ins
  • harassment and assaults
  • maintaining aggressive animals
  • building fires near a gas line or dangerous outdoor use of electrical appliances
  • defecation and urination in public places

City staff members have engaged in dozens of conversations, both formal and informal, to gather input from the community about how to address these issues. Based on that input and best practices implemented in other communities, a plan has been developed.

In order to curb these illegal and/or dangerous behaviors and protect the whole community’s ability to use and benefit from shared spaces the City plans to undertake several actions:

  • Continue to enforce existing City of Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department (Parks) policies relating to suspension from parks due to prohibited behavior.
  • Continue to discourage illegal and dangerous behavior in any location through existing civil statutes related to the use of public spaces, governing public health, or other legitimate means.
  • Increase police patrols and enforcement of policies as warranted by the persistence of illegal and unsafe behaviors, to supplement private security personnel recently contracted to enhance safety at City parks properties.
  • Enhance public safety capacity in order to have the ability to respond to dangerous and illegal behaviors in a timely fashion.
  • Continue to take special considerations when those individuals engaging in illegal behaviors are experiencing homelessness and are living in an encampment. In these situations, the Bloomington Police Department (BPD) follows their General Order entitled, “Police Interaction with Homeless Encampments.” If an encampment itself is deemed to be violating the rules for public property, the BPD will follow the “Policy on Closure of Encampments on Public Property” which may call for closure in the event that the encampment is located on public property and/or property owned by Parks. (Encampments on private property are the responsibility of the property owner; the City will assist with their closure as appropriate.); behaviors or the encampment location interfere with others’ use of the public space or the maintenance of the public space for the benefit of all; or behaviors there are illegal or unsafe to those camping or to the general public.

The City is coordinating efforts with nonprofit partners, including shelter providers and other social service agencies, to support individuals who are displaced if an encampment is closed and connect them with services and resources, including food, shelter, therapeutic services, and employment and/or occupational opportunities.

The City will enforce all policies in a way that targets illegal and unsafe behaviors and does not discriminate on the basis of an individual’s housing status.