Resolution supporting $5K more for Bloomington police gets OK from city council

A resolution that expresses support for revising the current collective bargaining agreement with the police union, to increase sworn officer pay by $5,000, was approved by Bloomington’s city council at a special meeting on Wednesday.

The vote was 7–1–1

Dissenting on the vote were Matt Flaherty, who voted against the resolution, and Kate Rosenbarger, who abstained from the vote after participating in deliberations.

Spurring the resolution, which was sponsored by Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg, and Ron Smith, are Bloomington police department’s (BPD’s) challenges with recruitment and retention.

Two recent resignations have dropped the number of sworn officers to 91, out of 105 that are authorized. The proposed 2022 budget provides funding for 105 sworn officers.

BPD’s union, FOP Lodge 88, has provided certified salary amounts to the state’s police pension fund for comparisons that show Bloomington ranks 68th out of 153 departments in the state.

Sandberg said at Wednesday’s meeting, “We should have been doing more to retain officers. And our failure to keep pace with competitive salaries has brought us to this critical point where action is needed now.”

Around 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, about an hour before the city council’s Wednesday sessions started, a joint statement on the resolution was issued by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton and police chief Mike Diekhoff. The statement essentially opposed the resolution. Continue reading “Resolution supporting $5K more for Bloomington police gets OK from city council”

Bloomington city council to mull resolution on “certain inadequacies within the police budget”

The proposed 2022 budget for Bloomington’s police department will be the topic of a city council work session on Friday at noon, and a special meeting of the council set for 7:45 p.m. on Wednesday (Sept. 8).

Up for discussion will be a resolution sponsored by councilmembers Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg and Ron Smith that “addresses certain inadequacies within the police budget,” according to Rollo.

News of the possible resolution came at the end of the city council’s Wednesday meeting, during the time when the council addresses scheduling matters.

The resolution is likely to call for an increase to the proposed 2022 police budget so that pay for officers can be bumped, which would probably require an earlier-than-scheduled reopening of the collective bargaining agreement with FOP Lodge 88.

Those are options that the city council discussed last week during its hearing on the police department’s budget. Continue reading “Bloomington city council to mull resolution on “certain inadequacies within the police budget””

Budget notebook: Bloomington police salary data

Much of last Tuesday’s Bloomington city council hearing on the police department’s 2022 budget focused on pay for Bloomington’s sworn officers.

A key question councilmembers were keen to get answered: How does compensation for Bloomington’s police officers stack up against compensation in other Indiana cities?

At last Tuesday’s meeting, Fraternal Order Police Lodge 88 representatives told councilmembers that BPD compensation ranks 68th out of the state’s roughly 153 departments—still in the top half, but not by much.

That’s consistent with the 2021 data that the FOP Lodge 88 has since provided to The B Square. Continue reading “Budget notebook: Bloomington police salary data”

Bloomington councilmembers want to consider paying police more in 2022, ahead of collective bargaining negotiations

A majority of Bloomington city councilmembers sound like they would support paying the city’s police officers more than the amount specified in the current collective bargaining agreement, which runs through 2022.

That’s based on deliberations that took place Tuesday, the second of four nights of hearings by the council this week on each department’s proposed 2022 budget.

Councilmembers are worried that Bloomington’s pay is not competitive enough to recruit and retain officers to achieve the currently authorized staffing levels. That doesn’t factor in the roughly 30 officers called for by the fiscal plan that’s a part of the city’s annexation proposal.

Bloomington’s police department is authorized to hire up to 105 authorized sworn officers, but has just 93 on staff, of which only 76 are available, according to police chief Mike Diekhoff. The number who aren’t available to respond to calls includes those who are on military leave, on light duty due to injury, and also those still in training.

According to police union representatives, the department has hired 66 new officers but lost 67, since Hamilton became mayor in 2016. Continue reading “Bloomington councilmembers want to consider paying police more in 2022, ahead of collective bargaining negotiations”

Concern about Bloomington’s police staffing levels in light of potential annexations: By the numbers

According to Bloomington’s fiscal plan in support of its proposed annexation of territory,  the police department would need to add between 24 and 31 sworn officers, at a cost of up to around $2.6 million a year.

The additional officers would be needed in order to provide service to 9,000 more acres of area, and about 14,000 more people, based on Bloomington’s annexation plans.

At Wednesday’s public hearing on the proposed annexations, the president of Bloomington’s police union spoke about his concerns.

Paul Post, who’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 88 and a senior police officer for BPD, asked the city council: “Will the city have enough police officers to provide basic police services for the new version of Bloomington?”

It’s an open question, according to Post, because BPD has not been able to maintain the number of officers authorized in the city’s current budget.

BPD has fewer sworn officers than its budgeted number, but is losing officers as fast as the department can replace them, based on Post’s description.

The immediate consequence of the officer shortage, according to Post, is that all three of BPD’s uniformed patrol shifts have had to lower their daily minimum staffing levels. BPD is working at or below minimum staffing, Post said.

That means there are fewer officers who are available to field increased calls for service like “weapons in progress,” according to Post.

The numbers in Bloomington’s online payroll system and calls for service dataset basically square up with Post’s remarks.

Continue reading “Concern about Bloomington’s police staffing levels in light of potential annexations: By the numbers”

Bloomington police: Man dies in flood, was driver of car swept up in rushing waters

In a press release issued early Sunday afternoon, Bloomington’s police department announced a search team discovered the body of a man who was reported missing, after the car he was driving was swept up in floodwaters on Friday night.

Red and blue areas are flood areas defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The purple circles indicate about where the car drove into the water, and where the body was discovered. (Map by The B Square)

The man was identified in the press release as Colten Booe (31) of Bloomington.

According to the release, Booe was last seen in a vehicle that was driven into “rapidly-moving floodwaters” near the intersection of S. College Avenue and W. Dodds Street.

The release says that according to Booe’s 29-year-old passenger, Booe was at the wheel of the 2016 Nissan Versa south on College Avenue and attempted to drive through the floodwaters near the intersection of S. College Avenue and W. Dodds Street.

Continue reading “Bloomington police: Man dies in flood, was driver of car swept up in rushing waters”

Press Release: Bloomington police investigate northside killing

In a press release issued Tuesday afternoon, the Bloomington police department reported a shooting on the north side of town that detectives are now investigating as a murder.

No arrests have been made, according to the release. Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to call detective Chris Scott at (812) 349-3382.

The shooting took place the night before, inside a residence on the 1600 block of N. Willis in the north part of town, according to the news release. Continue reading “Press Release: Bloomington police investigate northside killing”

Press Release: Bloomington police investigate triple homicide, suicide in southeast part of city

Mid-morning on Sunday, Bloomington police officers discovered the scene of an apparent triple homicide and suicide, inside a house on the southeast side of the city, according to a news release issued Sunday afternoon.

In the news release, Bloomington police department reported that earlier in the day, around 10 a.m., officers had responded to a call from a woman who had visited the house on the 2600 block of South Olcott Boulevard to pick up her friend. When she knocked and no one answered, she used a key to go inside and discovered her friend. It immediately appeared that her friend was deceased, and she left the house to call 911, according to the news release.

When BPD officers arrived, they found four people dead inside the house, all with gunshot wounds, according to the news release. The BPD news release says, “Evidence at the scene indicated that a 61-year-old man had shot and killed his 54-year-old wife, his 26 year-old daughter, and his 18-year-old son before shooting himself.” Continue reading “Press Release: Bloomington police investigate triple homicide, suicide in southeast part of city”

Committee gets more perspective on police as Bloomington city council weighs 2021 budget proposal to swap out sworn officers

A Wednesday night meeting of the Bloomington city council’s standing committee on public safety put some new information about Bloomington’s police department in front of the four-member group.

Committee member Isabel Piedmont-Smith told Bloomington police chief Mike Diekhoff, who was on hand to answer questions, “I was shocked. I was shocked that BPD sometimes uses no-knock warrants.”

Wednesday’s committee meeting, chaired by council vice president Jim Sims, came in the context of Bloomington mayor John Hamilton’s 2021 budget proposal. The 2021 budget proposes to swap five authorized sworn officer positions for two social workers, two neighborhood resource officers, and a data analyst. The final version of the budget gets presented on Sept. 30.

Piedmont-Smith’s shock was a reaction to the police department’s written answers to questions from committee members. The department’s answers had been given to the committee earlier in the day.

The committee questions included this one: “Does BPD ever serve warrants or for any reason enter homes without knocking?” The written response led off with a simple acknowledgment: “Yes, but they are rare.”

The written response also includes a description of the constraints on no-knock warrants: They’re subject to judicial review, and must get an approval that’s separate from the application for a warrant. They’re supposed to be used only in situations where waiting for someone to answer the knock would be futile or dangerous to the officers serving the warrant.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Piedmont-Smith asked Diekhoff: “Can you guarantee me that a situation like Breonna Taylor cannot happen in Bloomington?”

Continue reading “Committee gets more perspective on police as Bloomington city council weighs 2021 budget proposal to swap out sworn officers”

Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100

During a panel discussion with other city officials, live streamed Thursday afternoon on Facebook, Bloomington’s mayor, John Hamilton put numbers to an idea he mentioned in a speech two weeks ago.

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The 2021 budget proposal, which the mayor will eventually present to the city council in mid-to-late August, would reduce the number of sworn officer positions with the Bloomington police department (BPD) from 105 to 100.

The budget is scheduled for adoption in October.

The idea is to re-allocate the money for five sworn officers to at least five new non-sworn positions—a mix of social workers and neighborhood resource specialists, Hamilton said.

The move comes in the context of calls nationwide and locally to “defund the police.” Continue reading “Bloomington mayor: Proposed 2021 budget will reduce sworn police from 105 to 100”