The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 88 is speaking out after the Bloomington City Council voted 5-4 on Jan. 25 to relocate the police headquarters to Showers City Hall.
Isabel Piedmont-Smith, city council vice president, said the council voted to relocate the police headquarters instead of paying for renovations and expansion in the current building at 220 E. Third St.
The decision to proceed with the move to the Showers building at 401 N. Morton St. was made despite concerns by the BPD, according to a FOP 88 press release. BPD hopes to be involved with the relocation as it proceeds.
FOP 88 represents 12 law enforcement agencies in the state of Indiana including the BPD. Its responsibilities include maintaining police rights, work safety, benefits and wages.
[Related: City council narrowly approves use of funds for relocating police department to Showers building]
Paul Post, a senior officer at BPD and president of FOP 88, said much of the concern was due to the accessibility and safety of the new location.
“This particular building is a specific case, we have issues with how it was constructed and if it can be brought up to current safety codes because it is an older building,” Post said. “That particular area is very landlocked and there is a lot of pedestrian traffic. It’s not a great setup if we’re trying to get out of there quickly.”
Post said BPD and FOP 88 did a good job bringing their concerns to the council and the public.
“When it seemed like a matter that was already decided, that’s when we really spoke up more and got the council’s attention,” Post said. “I think the concerns were heard, we had a lot of good and supportive comments from members of the council.”
Susan Sandberg, an at-large representative for Bloomington City Council, said she was against the decision because she felt the BPD concerns were not given the proper consideration.
“I was very skeptical at the reasoning of the administration to move forward with this especially after we heard comments from the police themselves telling us this is not our best option and would not be in the best interest of public safety,” Sandberg said. “But that position was defeated very narrowly, five members of the council deemed it necessary.”
[Related: Historic Bloomington Showers building sold to Eurton Properties]
Bloomington Mayor John Hamilton said he understands why it was a divisive decision, but it will be very beneficial to public safety services and will provide more opportunities for growth.
“I understand that there were some people who felt that the Showers building was not the perfect place for a police headquarters and that the police staying at their current location had more merit,” Hamilton said. “We’re moving forward because the council approved it by a majority vote, and we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
Hamilton said BPD will continue to work closely with the mayor’s office in designing the layout of the new headquarters at the Showers building. He said with the renovations which need to be done, he thinks move will be complete in 2024.