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Bloomington's Police Advisory Board Holds First Regular Meeting

Bloomington PSCRB
Baylee Steelman
Bloomington's Public Safety and Community Relations Board at its first quarterly meeting Wednesday, March 21, 2018, at City of Refuge Church in Bloomington.

Bloomington residents were able to ask questions during the Public Safety and Community Relations Board's (PSCRB) first quarterly meeting Wednesday. 

The board presented its informational brochure to an audience of about 15 people at the City of Refuge Church in Bloomington, where board member William Bennett is the pastor. The board answered questions about the brochure for filing review requests on citizen complaints with the Bloomington Police Department.

Board Chair Art Taylor said those wishing to file complaints shouldn't directly approach board members.

"If we want cases heard and heard in a fair comprehensive way, there needs to be some confidentiality and we hope to instill that into our brochure so that it's clear to the public," Taylor said.

The PSCRB's members are volunteers appointed by the Bloomington City Council. The seven appointees were chosen from 66 applicants. The other five members are: 

  • Robert Bosquez with the West Bloomington Revitalization Project
  • Sally Rudolph, decades of public service in many roles including planning bodies and the McLean County League of Women Voters
  • Jan Lancaster, owner of the Bistro in downtown Bloomington and a staunch ally of gay rights
  • Jeff Woodard, lead a diversity initiative for the McLean County Museum of History in downtown Bloomington, where he is director of marketing and community relations
  • Surena Fish, retired Wood Street resident who was active in recent years in a neighborhood campaign to stop disruptions at a business near Miller Park

The meeting's attendees mostly questioned the PSCRB on its specific duties and their process of reviewing Bloomington Police Department complaints residents may believe were not handled properly.
Here's how the PSCRB's brochure explains the complaint-review process:

  • If a complainant is not satisfied with the final determination by the Chief of Police, the compainant may make a request for a review by the PSCRB within 30 days from the recipt of the notice of the BPD's findings.
  • A request for a complaint review must be made in writing and filed with the BPD, the City of Bloomington's Legal Department or provided to the PSCRB at their public meetings.
  • Written requests should include the requester's name (printed and signed), phone number, BPD complaint tracking number (if available), date of receipt of the compaint findings and the fate the written request was submitted.
  • The PSCRB's review is limited to determining if BPD followed established protocols during their complaint investigation.
  • Per local ordinance (Ch. 35, Art IV, Sec. 79), the PSCRB cannot compel testimony or re-investigate the orginial complaint.

Public Meetings

The PSCRB will hold public meetings every second Wednesday of the month at 3:30 p.m. at the Bloomington Police Department, 2nd floor, 305 S. East St. Its next quarterly meeting will be in June, with a location to be determined.

Bloomington resident Olivia Butts voiced concern with the board's close relationship with the BPD. She said holding the public meetings at the police department may discourage those wary of the police from attending.

She also said the board should be keeping its distance from the BPD as an independent, separate entity, as planned. Board members said they worked with the BPD on their current draft of the informational brochure.

Board members emphasized their appreciation of public input, and that their only reason for existing is because of the community's outreach and requests. Board member Surena Fish said since the PSCRB has no budget, one of their only options for a meeting space is the Bloomington Police Department because it's free to use. 

Board member Sally Rudolph said they'll be communicating with residents as they go along.

"We're all new at this. We have to emphasize that it's a process," she said.

Board member Jan Lancaster will act as the vice chair. The board's next public meeting will be held at BPD on April 11.

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Baylee Steelman joined us in November 2016. She is a journalism major graduating in May 2018. She mainly covers Bloomington City and Normal Town Council meetings, Unit 5 School Board meetings, produces the weekend News In Review, and helps run GLT events. Baylee also produces and anchors at TV-10, Illinois State University's student TV news station.
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