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Dan Spalding mayhem
Dan Spalding
Reporter Dan Spalding enjoys politics and cats and the mayhem both sometimes provide.




Other Stories by Dan Spalding
Reporter Dan Spalding writes about Elkhart, politics and current events for the Elkhart Truth.


Dialogue in Elkhart policing controversy expected to yield ideas, but tensions are still simmering

Recent public meetings between Elkhart officials, neighborhood residents and advocates reveal a willingness to dialogue, but also underlying animosity.

(Dan Spalding/The Elkhart Truth)
Posted on July 23, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.

ELKHART — Mayor Dick Moore said he’s waiting on proposals from several groups aimed at improving police relations with a south central Elkhart neighborhoods.

Moore heard concerns as well as a few ideas during meetings on July 15 and July 18 that were prompted in part by concerns over crime and the way police responded after an officer was injured in a fight that resulted in an arrest on July 3.

The group of ministers as well as people associated with Elkhart Community Roundtable and a new advocacy group called Nine Blocks may all eventually put forth some ideas, Moore said.

“I am also suggesting that all three organizations that we have heard about might get together, discuss the concerns that they have heard and then bring them to the administration as one,” Moore said.

Members of Elkhart Community Roundtable, which hosted the July 15 meeting, is expected to meet Saturday and could draft a few ideas.

Leighton Johnson, a spokesman for the Roundtable, said the group will meet at 2 p.m. at the Historic Roosevelt Center cafeteria to consider ideas that could be passed along to city, but the group is working on other ideas as well. 

One event the group is looking to host would involved educating people on their rights and how better to interact with police, Johnson said.

The July 18 meeting of residents and representatives of the city police department was brought together by area ministers and ended on a heart-warming note with a prayer in which almost everyone participated and held hands.

But there were two moments that seemed a little unsettling at the meeting at Agape Missionary Baptist Church.

The meeting had an awkward moment when a white female pastor who said she had participated in ride-alongs with police patrols and said residents need to show more respect for officers.

That’s understandable, but in doing so, she used the term “you people” when addressing the audience.

That quickly led to catcalls from some in the audience who angrily belittled the term and asked for a clarification.

She quickly apologized three times and said she was referring to residents of the neighborhood.

Prior to the “you people” comment, there was another comment that felt less than diplomatic.

It came from an African-American woman who talked for several minutes about the need for police to be more respectful.

But at one point, she said that “In the hood, we can get a gun as easily as you can.”


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