Press release: Bloomington Recognizes Mayors Fight Back – A Week of Action Against Violent Crime

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Tuesday:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 16, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Michael Diekhoff, Chief, Bloomington Police Department

[email protected] or 812-339-4477

Beverly Calender-Anderson, Director, Community & Family Resources

[email protected] or 812-339-3430

Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor

[email protected] or 812-349-3406

Bloomington Recognizes Mayors Fight Back – A Week of Action Against Violent Crime

Bloomington, Ind. – Mayor Hamilton joins Democratic mayors across the nation in highlighting and addressing the increase in gun violence across the nation. In June of this year, Congress passed and President Biden signed into law the Safer Communities Act, the first major gun reform legislation in 30 years and the sort of progress needed to improve our safety. This is why the Democratic Mayors Association (DMA), in partnership with the Center for American Progress Action Fund, announced Mayors Fight Back – A Week of Action Against Violent Crime for the week of August 15.

Indiana has long had some of the weakest gun laws in the nation. As of July 1, 2022, the State of Indiana no longer requires a handgun permit to legally carry, conceal, or transport a handgun within the state. This new “constitutional carry” law was opposed by many in law enforcement including Bloomington Police Chief Mike Diekhoff and Indiana State Police Superintendent Douglas Carter who testified, but ultimately passed by the Indiana General Assembly. In Indiana, someone carrying a gun no longer has the burden to prove they are legally allowed to do so. Additionally, Indiana law prohibits municipalities from regulating firearms, further inhibiting Bloomington from protecting our community against gun violence.   

“Gun violence devastates families and weakens communities,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “We in Bloomington want to do everything we can to reduce gun violence and promote safety for all residents.” 

The Bloomington Police Department (BPD) faces the proliferation of firearms every day and works to reduce gun violence in our community. Major crimes in Bloomington decreased 9 percent in 2021, but the number of crimes involving firearms continues to rise in Bloomington as it does nationally. BPD has recently embraced a number of initiatives that have been found by the Police Executive Research Foundation (PERF) to be effective in helping to lower gun crimes, such as:

  • Enhanced forensic investigation of crime scenes involving firearms including submitting spent ammunition casings to ballistics laboratories for comparative analysis to find similarities to other shootings.
  • Making sure that cases suitable for ‘red-flag’ filings, cases where the mental health of the subject is in question or where there are grounds to believe violence may be eminent, are expediently processed into the legal system for Court action.
  • The implementation of evidence-based policing strategies targeting offenders who are often responsible for a large percentage of gun crimes. 
  • Aggressively enforce existing laws that help keep firearms out of the hands of persons who are legally prohibited from possessing them. 
  • Collaborating with Moms Demand Action to provide five hundred gun locks to community residents, to date.

The City of Bloomington is looking forward to new programs designed to further reduce the negative impact of guns in our community, while emphasizing the need for gun laws to change in Indiana. The City announced two new programs today: 

  • Violence Prevention Pilot Grant Program: City of Bloomington Community and Family Resources will administer new, direct investments into local neighborhoods to help prevent, interrupt, or reduce violence through evidence-based violence-prevention services offered by grassroots organizations, neighborhood associations, or other community-based organizations. The $125,000 grant program is part of the 2023 budget proposal the City Council will consider later this month.
  • Gun Buyback Pilot Program: BPD is exploring funding options for a new gun buyback program. A gun buyback program allows gun owners voluntarily to turn in their firearms to law enforcement, no questions asked, in exchange for compensation. Indiana state law prohibits the use of public funds for a buyback program. 

In addition to direct measures aimed at reducing gun violence, BPD is invested in long-lasting strategies and best practices that are preventative and aimed at de-escalation. These include: 

  • Conducting mobile roll calls beginning in May 2022 throughout City neighborhoods in an effort to build stronger connections with the community.
  • Hosting the first annual National Conference on Police Social Work which was an overwhelming success and brought together experts from many fields to educate on long-lasting cohesive strategies and establish best practices for embedded police social workers which has proven so vital in the Bloomington community. 
  • Continuing to lead the way in setting the standard for best practices in police social work by providing training for agencies from around the world at the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) International Training Conference as well as the National Training Conference for the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE).  
  • Continuing to provide training that is compliant with the PERF-led ICAT (Integration, Communications, Assessment, and Tactics) model which melds police use-of-force training with tactics and procedures designed to prevent the escalation of a potentially violent police-resident encounter.
  • Continuing to operate under internationally recognized best practices as a nationally accredited police department by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc. (CALEA) (calea.org) in recognition of the department’s excellence in public safety and commitment to the community.   

Bloomington residents can embrace a culture of gun safety and take actions to reduce gun violence in our community: 

  • If you own a firearm, store it safely and use it safely. Everytown For Gun Safety offers more information on secure gun storage at https://bton.in/4YO–.  
  • Use online tools such as social media wisely – look out for threats of self-harm or violence. Report to BPD at 812-349-4477. In cases of emergency or immediate risk, call 911.  
  • If you have a concern, use the Say Something Anonymous Reporting System at https://bton.in/Af88Y.
  • Share ideas and thoughts about gun control positively. This may be on social media, in letters, during meetings, etc. 
  • Become informed about local laws and legislation and get involved in ways that are important to you. Learn more about how Indiana compares nationwide at  https://bton.in/p2TUL.
  • Get active by signing a petition, writing a letter to your elected state and federal representatives, attending an event, or voting in local elections. 

Mayor Hamilton and the City of Bloomington are committed to a safe community. Residents are invited to join in this commitment as we all work together to reduce gun violence and increase community well-being. 

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