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No proposals sent to Elkhart Mayor over policing practices

While the mayor and police say no formal complaints have been filed about recent police activity that caused residents concern, groups are working on alternatives to improve bonds.

Posted on Aug. 14, 2014 at 1:25 p.m.

ELKHART — No specific proposals involving policing practices have been sent to Mayor Dick Moore following the West Garfield Avenue incidents five weeks ago.

Moore said he and his administration would consider ideas put forth by the community following complaints of harassment in and around the 100 block of Garfield Avenue after a July 3 incident in which a crowd watched as an Elkhart police officer was attacked and beaten.

The attack and complaints of harassment became a topic of discussion at two public forums in July.

Moore said Wednesday he has not received any proposals from community groups. He also said the Garfield incidents have been discussed internally and that he may issue a statement on the topic soon.

Earlier, Moore said he’d like to see any proposals channeled through Nine Blocks, a new advocacy group that is focusing on the immediate area around the Historic Roosevelt Center, which is a block north of Garfield Avenue.

Area ministers, as well as participants of the Elkhart Community Roundtable, have expressed a desire to see improved relations between police and residents of Elkhart’s south central area.

Rod Roberson, a city councilman and a longtime resident of area, is heading up Nine Blocks and said he doesn’t know of any specific proposals being drafted.

He also said he would like to see Nine Blocks establish its credibility before it starts serving as a clearing house for ideas.

Roberson did say they are seeking to improve community relations so they have an environment in which they can then “work on the bigger issues.”

He also said he doesn’t believe it would be beneficial to present any type of “demands” to city leaders.

Nine Blocks is currently focusing on completing a survey of area residents to see what they are committed to doing to improve the neighborhood, he said.

Days after Fourth of July weekend, residents complained about at least one arrest and several citations for minor offenses such as jaywalking and not having a bell on a bicycle.

Residents claimed the stepped-up patrols were in retaliation of the beating of the police officer, who required medical treatment. 

Police contend the uptick in patrols was driven by calls to police and taking measures to protect public safety. A look at statistics shows a heavy increase immediately after the assault on the police officer.

The mayor and other officials encouraged residents to file formal complaints with the police department, but as of Thursday, Aug. 14, Assistant Chief of Elkhart Police Laura Koch said none had been filed.

Some ideas tossed around at the meetings ranged from increased diversity training for police to an improved way to file complaints about police conduct.

Roberson said the Garfield incidents plus recent police raids on a handful of convenience stores over allegations of selling synthetic marijuana have brought about discussions among numerous people that would not have normally happened.

“We want to make sure we take these events and build something very positive out of them,” Roberson said.

Residents applauded the June 9 arrest of 11 people in connection with the allegations of fake pot sales in Elkhart and the closing of five stores on the city’s south side.

As for the incident involving Cpl. Dustin Young on July 3, a 21-year old Chicago man faces numerous charges over allegations.


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