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Public Input Sought On Bloomington Police Priorities, Next Chief

Robert Bosquez
Ryan Denham
Robert Bosquez is chair of the Bloomington Public Safety and Community Relations Board

The City of Bloomington’s police advisory board and the Not In Our Town group are surveying the public about their attitudes toward the Bloomington Police Department.

The online survey is open through the end of the month. It asks the public how it would prioritize things like drug and speed enforcement, diversity among officers, gang activity, and de-escalation training. It also asks what type of person should be hired as Bloomington’s next police chief.

“We want to see what the community is looking for, how we can better relations, and get some feedback from them. And that way, we can report back to the city council, the mayor, and the city manager, and let them know what the community is looking for,” said Robert Bosquez, chair of the Bloomington Public Safety and Community Relations Board (PSCRB).

BPD is on its fourth leader in three years.

Current interim chief Greg Scott took over Sept. 1 after Dan Donath’s retirement after less than a year as chief. Donath replaced another short-term chief, Clay Wheeler. City Manager Tim Gleason is expected to lead the search for a permanent chief sometime this year.

The PSCRB/NIOT survey asks whether the respondent prefers an internal or external candidate to become the next chief. Bosquez has a preference himself.

“First and foremost, I want someone local. I know BPD is a good force,” Bosquez said. “I think there are many qualified police officers, sergeants, lieutenants and assistant chiefs that would be great. So that’s what I want to see, somebody local. Now, if we don’t have any interest from within the police department, then I’d like to see somebody at least from (within) the state.”

The PSCRB is able to review the outcome of complaints filed against the department, if someone was unhappy with the resolution. Bosquez said they haven’t had much to do.

“If there was trouble, if stuff had come up within Bloomington Police that was questionable, then I’d more likely say it’s time to look outside (for a chief). But currently we have some good candidates in-house,” he said.

PSCRB partnered with NIOT on the survey. That’s an all-volunteer organization, active in the community since 1995, to “stop hate, address bullying and to build a safe and inclusive community for all.”

“Because of COVID, public listening sessions are limited and are not always time conducive,” said Mike Matejka, NIOT co-chair. “This way citizens can have input; there’s opportunity in this survey to reflect on people’s current attitudes toward the department, what they would consider the highest priorities and any input on where they would like to see in the department’s goals."

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Ryan Denham is the content director for WGLT and WCBU.