ELKHART — On Friday, Mayor Dick Moore questioned the level of support for a statement issued by Elkhart Community Roundtable listing suggestions aimed at improving police relations with the city’s south central neighborhoods.
A committee representing the Roundtable issued a release Thursday afternoon.
Among the proposals: More diversity training for officers, more hiring of minorities in the police department and the use of vest cams that would be worn by officers to “keep all parties accountable and honest.”
But there was a catch.
The Roundtable’s statement was released in an email that included the name of Adrian Riley, a member of the Roundtable.
A revised version was then quickly sent that did not include the name of Riley, who works for the Elkhart County Sheriff’s department.
Riley then alerted city officials that he did not support the proposals.
Moore said he had met with Riley earlier and that there had been no mention of a pending list of suggestions and that Riley expressed surprise by the roundtable’s release of proposals.
That led Moore to question if other participants do not support the proposals.
“How many more did not know about or approve these demands and requests,” Moore wrote in a statement released by his office Friday afternoon.
Representatives of the Roundtable were quick to clarify their stand by issuing a statement that said, in part, “there is no confusion or lack of cohesiveness in our group.”
“The letter sent to Mayor Moore was done so by the overwhelming democratic majority decision of our Action Committee which has five members,” the roundtable statement said.
“We appreciate the Mayor wanting to have a group consensus, and that is what has been achieved,” the statement said.
The suggestions for change in the police department stem from concerns voiced by area residents who say they were harassed extensively on the Fourth of July weekend following an attack on a police officer as others watched.
Two public meetings days afterward included complaints and suggestions and Moore said his administration would consider any proposals.
Meanwhile, Moore’s statement also reiterated his desire that groups interested in the policing issue speak with “one voice.”
He said other issues beyond policing such as education and the role of parents need to be addressed.
“We need a much more rounded view to seek any resolution,” Moore said.
The group reiterated its desire to meet with Moore in a public setting next week.
“We continue to remain focused on the suggestions we recommended that he solicited, and we would like Mayor Moore to respond to our recommendations and let us make efforts to improve Elkhart together,” the group’s statement read.
Moore said he will continue to work with police and will eventually release a statement with his own conclusions.
The mayor hinted that some progress has been made.
“Sometimes we forget that from the incident itself, we learn. The police learned something and the observers most likely learned something.”
Elkhart Community Roundtable Action Committee’s Letter to Mayor Moore (Aug. 14, 2014)
Press Release from Mayor Dick Moore’s office (Aug. 15, 2014)
Elkhart Community Roundtable Action Committee’s Press Advisory (Aug. 15, 2014)