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CAPS Commission Passes Through Council After Hours Of Debate

A middle range shot of Bloomington City Hall.

(Ethan Burks, WFIU/WTIU News)

The Bloomington City Council approved the new Community Advisory Commission on Public Safety Wednesday night, after roughly two and a half hours of debate. 

The commission will recruit community members who will volunteer to research and report public safety issues directly to the council.

READ MORE: City Proposes A New Commission On Public Safety

Councilmember Isabel Piedmont-Smith co-sponsored the legislation. She said the goal is to take a new approach at how the city looks at public safety by hearing from marginalized groups.

“Why do people commit crimes? Why do people get into trouble with the police? Let’s look at some of those root causes like not enough mental health services, not enough addiction treatment, or maybe it's racial bias," Piedmont-Smith said. "There are many things that add up to a lack of public safety.”

Not all members of the council were onboard with this new commission, as some felt it would be a duplication of efforts.

“My concern is about the structure and what we are going to be able to do. We have other organizations that are well underway," said councilmember Susan Sandberg.

In the last few weeks, the city has created two citizen-led task forces: the Racial Equity Task Force and the Future of Policing Task Force.

READ MORE: Bloomington To Create Two New Racial Equality Task Forces

“This is a very difficult ‘No’ vote because many of you are casting most of us who don’t think this is the best way to go as somehow being callous or not compassionate about the plight of people in our community," Sandberg said. "That could not be further from the truth.”

Several community members spoke out in favor of the commission during Wednesday night's meeting. 

"What is the downside of creating the commission? I feel like my representatives should move and should be advocating for marginalized communities," local activist Vauhxx Booker said. "All people are asking for is to literally create a commission to speak out their voices. I don’t think that’s too much to ask."

The CAPS Commission was approved 6-3. 

"I think that having it embedded in the council office gives the staff people the opportunity to do the research that can then backup the concerns and the problems that are being experienced by people in the community," councilmember Dave Rollo said. 

The council will now begin finding volunteers from different backgrounds to participate.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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