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Wednesday, April 17
The Indiana Daily Student

BPD, BFD give first joint public safety report

Region Filler

Both the Bloomington Police and Fire departments saw increases in calls to service this year and kept up with increased training. BPD received more than 51,000 total calls for service last year, BPD Chief Mike Diekhoff said Thursday during a joint presentation with Fire Chief Jason Moore. Most were for traffic-related issues, services by other agencies or welfare checks, and nuisances. The smallest number of calls were from violent crimes, which includes rape and robbery. Assaults and murder are not part of their violent crime calculations. Nearly 4,000 calls were for Downtown Resource Officers, who assist nuisance crimes downtown.

Bloomington has 1.2 officers per 1000 people, which Diekhoff said is the lowest in the state. This ratio is 25 percent lower from suggested standards. However, he said crime rates per 1000 people in Bloomington were lower than in other cities of similar size.

Though 51,000 calls were responded to, more than 66,000 calls to 911 were made last year. Calls to other city emergency lines totaled nearly 61,000, and Monroe County dispatch received nearly 37,000 calls.

The United States Department of Justice set benchmarks in 2015 for local law enforcement agencies to meet, such as publicly announcing reports and summary statements, forming procedures for de-escalating mass protests and having every officer equipped with a first aid kit. Diekhoff said BPD meets 60 of the 64 benchmarks but would like to do better. 

Publice meetings will take place Feb. 20, March 1 and March 6 to discuss the report, what it means and what BPD could do to meet all standards.

BPD is also seeking accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies. Only 19 agencies in Indiana are accredited under CALEA.

“It’s a big deal to do this,” Diekhoff said. 

BPD hopes to have a mock evaluation done in June and then gain full accreditation in 2018.

Moore said the Bloomington Fire Deparment received almost 3,900 calls last year, a 2.8-percent increase from 2015.

“As long as we’re maintaining at or below the population growth, then we are not really becoming less safe,” Moore said. 

He said two people died in fires last year, but death rates from fires do not correlate with the number of fire calls in a year. Moore did say, however, that 88 percent of people who died from fires in Bloomington in the last 10 years did not have smoke detectors.

Moore said false alarm calls have decreased significantly. IU has the most fire alarms compared to other places around the city, which means more false calls are made to campus. While some false calls have initial emergency intentions, Moore said there have been years where more than a hundred were considered to be malicious alarms. Only four have been made this year thanks to a crackdown from IU, Moore said.

As of October, BFD was meeting response time goals, Moore said. The self-imposed goals are to respond to a call within 10 minutes 98 percent of the time, and within five minutes 80 percent of the time. Moore said BFD was just shy of its goals last year, but that some of the outliers were caused by inaccurate reporting. BFD plans to upgrade its data collecting system in which response times would be totaled by dispatches.

Mayor Hamilton led the presentation expressing the importance of these reports.

“The first job a city administration is public safety,” he said.

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