The group Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal is asking its members to call Bloomington aldermen this weekend to delay a vote on whether to open a police substation on West Jefferson Street. BLM leaders say the community has not been properly engaged and there is no consensus that a substation would be welcome.
They want to delay a vote for more conversation but initially view the substation as an increased police presence that, "violates any commitment to community policing, " according to a release issued late Friday afternoon.
"Many in west Bloomington are concerned there is a disproportionate police presence in their neighborhood." The group acknowledges, "While some community organizations have been part of this effort, many in the community are just finding out about this for the first time." The house is owned by Mid-Central Community Action which provides a variety of social services, including affordable housing for single adults.
Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner said earlier this week the substation would improve community relations and safety. "(It) will reduce officers' response time, increase police visibility, and provide officers the opportunity to meet and collaborate with community members," he said. Heffner is under fire for what some members of the local chapter say is a lack of efforts to include all residents in the decision-making process regarding how their neighborhoods are protected.
Black Lives Matter Bloomington-Normal is hosting what it's calling "A Community Accountability Meeting" it requested with Chief Heffner scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 15 at Mount Pisgah Baptist Church at 801 W. Market. The meeting is open to the public.