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Bloomington council hears about city's new ADA plan and police ideas for spending $500K grant

Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, right, with City Manager Tim Gleason at a previous meeting.
Emily Bollinger
WGLT file
Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe, right, with City Manager Tim Gleason at a previous meeting.

During Tuesday's non-voting meeting, the Bloomington City Council and Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe were presented with the city’s Americans with Disabilities Act Transition Plan, and the Bloomington Police Department’s ideas for using a $500,000 violence prevention grant.

Michael Hurt, Bloomington’s chief diversity and inclusion officer, outlined the city’s ADA transition plan to identify and address compliance failures of municipal programs, services, activities and buildings over the next three years.

Identifying compliance failures entails self-evaluation — looking for things like adequate signage and indicators for vision- impaired persons or measuring elevators and doorways to ensure wheelchair accessibility — and creating a grievance procedure for persons with disabilities who feel they are facing discrimination.

The new Access Bloomington webpage has compliance information on all city-operated facilities and a new grievance submission form that Hurt said will have a response time of less than 48 hours.

The findings from this transition period are meant guide all future policy implementations to include accessibility features.

Hurt said that it is important to recognize that this is not compliance for the the sake of compliance, but that “we are happy to do it; it’s the right thing to do.”

Violence prevention grant

Also during Tuesday's Committee of the Whole meeting, the council heard from the police department about the proposed use of $500,000 from the State of Illinois Violence Prevention Grant.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO) announced last July that the City of Bloomington was eligible for the $500,000 violence prevention grant that must be spent by June of this year.

The police department separated its proposed violence prevention programs into two categories: reactive and proactive.

The reactive programs include an automated tip line, paid rewards for tips, and ballistics analysis technology. The proactive programs include a youth summer camp, gun buybacks, safe purchases, and overt surveillance trailers and surveillance drones.

Multiple public commenters and council members expressed concerns about drone surveillance. Police Chief Jamal Simington insisted using drones would stick strictly to the letter of the law.

Council member Mollie Ward expressed concerns about who was involved in the planning process. City Manager Tim Gleason said the the city’s departments agreed among themselves that the planning and use of the grant money should be the sole purview of the police.

Assistant Chief of Police Ken Bays added that the proposed programs had been thoroughly researched and discussed in previous meetings.

There is not yet a final written proposal to the city council, or a completed grant application to the DCEO.

The council is expected to vote on the grant proposal during its regular meeting next week.

Philip Walker is a correspondent for WGLT. He joined the station in 2022.
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