Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner said has asked the city’s police advisory board to hold a series of public hearings and bring back ideas for “possible reforms in our police department procedures.”
Renner made the request Tuesday in a letter to Public Safety and Community Relations Board chair Robert Bosquez. He asked the PSCRB to complete its work “in the next few months.”
“While we have a strong police department with a demonstrated track record of positive public engagement, there is always room to do better,” Renner wrote.
In an interview on WGLT’s Sound Ideas, Renner used the word “demilitarize” to describe one type of change he’d like to see explored.
“That doesn’t necessarily mean defund. It means demilitarize,” Renner said.
That’s a nod to the demand from Black Lives Matter BloNo to defund local police departments by 50% by 2023. BLM says it wants those millions of dollars redirected toward social programs.
Renner also acknowledged WGLT’s reporting on the Bloomington Police Department’s recent history with using force. It showed use-of-force incidents were relatively rare in the past three years, but Black people represent more than half of those on the receiving end of Tasers, pepper spray, and strikes. That’s despite Black people only being about 10% of the population in Bloomington.
“Those numbers are very disturbing,” Renner said. “When you’ve got situations like (what WGLT reported), that’s one of the many reasons—including the national environment with Mr. Floyd and other issues—that I asked the PSCRB to investigate and propose some reforms to us.”
The PSCRB was created in 2017. It serves as a bridge between the community and Bloomington Police. Residents who are dissatisfied with the resolution of their complaint against BPD can ask the PSCRB to review it.
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