By Dan Spalding
WARSAW – Local authorities say they are reviewing policies to see if any adjustments are needed in light of the wave of criticisms nationally over police abuse.
While officials for the city of Warsaw and Kosciusko County say they are unaware of any complaints of harassment related to people of color in recent memory, they are nonetheless looking into ways to improve police procedures.
Mayor Joe Thallemer said the city is reviewing eight proposals being touted nationally that advocates are using to initiate changes in police policies.
The list (see below) includes a ban on chokeholds, the use of de-escalation tactics, the requirement to warn before shooting and a ban on shooting at moving vehicles.
Thallemer has forwarded the list to Police Chief Scott Whitaker to see “how we stack up” and views it “as a starting point.”
“If there are concerns with our policies, certainly we will address them,” Thallemer said.
Thallemer said they are not quick and easy answers to the concerns being voiced.
“No one’s perfect and we’re always trying to make sure our guys are doing the right thing and we’re going to look at it.”
Kosciusko County Sheriff Kyle Dukes said he sat down with the sergeant in charge of the training division of the sheriff’s department to see if there are new workshops on diversity training and de-escalation training that they could consider using.
One topic that comes up in many cities is the establishment of a citizen’s review board that could look at complaints.
“We’re at least talking about that. I’m not sure where that will go,” Dukes said. “Right now, everything’s on the table.”
Both Thallemer and Dukes have taken a proactive approach in light of the national movement and local demonstrations.
Dukes gained attention when he unexpectedly decided to address a crowd of more than 200 people at a peaceful rally outside of the Kosciusko County Courthouse, where he invited people of color to work with city and county police about discussing police relations and ways to improve.
Local supporters of Black Lives Matter have repeatedly said they do not have a problem with local law enforcement, but have raised concern about racist issues that continue to surface in the community.
Thallemer has repeatedly applauded local efforts to raise concerns about what has been deemed by many as a national issue.
Dukes said he’s invited Thallemer and city police to meet with activists.
“If we don’t continue to have these conversations, shame on us,” Dukes said.