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Elkhart Community Roundtable suggests hiring more minority police officers, using vest cams, sensitivity training in wake of Garfield Avenue turmoil

The Elkhart Community Roundtable proposes use of vest cams, community policing polices and improved minority hiring efforts.

(Elkhart Truth File photo)
Posted on Aug. 14, 2014 at 6:51 p.m.

ELKHART — A list of suggestions on how to improve police relations with south central Elkhart has been sent to Mayor Dick Moore.

In an email sent late Thursday afternoon, Aug. 14, to city officials and the media, representatives of Elkhart Community Roundtable listed a series of “actions” they say the community would like to see “to begin the hard work of mending relations between this community and the Elkhart Police Department.”

The request comes more than five weeks after allegations of harassment from residents of south central Elkhart after a police officer was attacked and beaten.

In the email, the group indicates it believes many of the suggestions can be implemented with minimal effort and suggested money in the police budget set aside for salaries still unspent because of hiring difficulties could be used for some of their objectives.

Among their suggestions:

■ The acquisition and use of on-officer cameras, also known as vest cams, “to keep all parties accountable and honest.”

■ Hiring incentives to attract applicants from south central Elkhart.

■ Community-oriented policing models in which officers reside in areas where they serve or patrol.

■ Adoption of ethnic sensitivity and diversity training.

■ Hiring of more minority officers.

■ A “full and public review” of any alleged misconduct of officers involved in the Garfield incidents.

The group would also like to see a public affirmation from city officials to dedicate resources to seek out solutions. “We believe the onus is on the city to ensure this is actively and rigorously pursued,” the letter said.

Elkhart Roundtable is seeking a meeting next week with Moore to discuss possible solutions to “existing issues” involving police relations.

The list of suggestions was announced hours after The Elkhart Truth posted a story online saying Moore had not received any lists. The story also quoted Rod Roberson, a leader of the neighborhood advocacy group known as Nine Blocks, saying he believed a list of demands would not be beneficial.

Moore said late Thursday afternoon that he had just received the letter and declined comment.

The group’s suggestions come after a series of meetings conducted by Roundtable, including a public forum in which concerns were aired by area residents over the Garfield incidents.

Letter to Mayor Moore from The Elkhart Community Roundtable Action Committee by sarahduis


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