Fort Wayne commission makes recommendations for police reform and racial justice

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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A commission tasked with strengthening the community’s trust in the Fort Wayne Police Department has submitted a series of recommendations to Mayor Tom Henry.

The Mayor’s Commission on Police Reform and Racial Justice on Tuesday presented its final report and recommendations to bring accountability, transparency, and healing to the city. The commission identified three focus areas for the police department: Race Relations, Communication, and Departmental Transparency.

  • To improve race relations, the commission recommends more community conversations, improving the culture of racial understanding, stronger outreach, and the recruitment and retention of Fort Wayne Police officers.
  • Strategic planning, staff and budgeting, and community partnerships are necessary for improving communications, the commission recommended.
  • Departmental transparency will fall on the Board of Public Safety, with necessary improvements in the Internal Affairs process, social service partnerships, and body-worn cameras, the commission identified.

“The community has to trust the Fort Wayne Police Department, and to get there we must acknowledge that some mistrust does currently exist,” said commission co-chair and City Councilwoman Michelle Chambers. “The recommendations provided within this report are a first step to modifying procedures to build that trust. I appreciate the work and support of the members of the Commission who have selflessly given countless hours to assist in this mission.”

Fort Wayne’s Commission on Police Reform and Racial Justice submitted its recommendations to Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry on Tuesday, March 9, 2021.

The commission was formed in the wake of civil unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in late May 2020. The commission, comprised of members from different walks of life in the community, worked for eight months to review and address concerns of area residents.

“I believe this is a good, strong outcome to this process,” said commission co-chair Joe Jordan. “We took a hard look at policies and procedures of the Fort Wayne Police Department. We didn’t look at one instance, but at the culture, and the surrounding services that are provided by the Department. I appreciate Mayor Henry and Chief Reed allowing and supporting their staff in sharing knowledge with this group.”

The commission said it expects to receive “regular updates on the implementation of the recommendations, beginning with an initial response and plan framework,” in the next 45 days.

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