FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Mayor Tom Henry announced his “Moving Forward Together” action plan, following weeks of protests in downtown Fort Wayne. The mayor says the plan is designed to bring the community together.
Part of the plan includes the development of a Police Reform and Racial Justice Commission. The commission will be led by Councilwoman Michelle Chambers.
“I’m absolutely listening and responding. We’ve received over 500 emails to date in reference to, in support of our police department, against how the protesters were handled. So I’m just trying to be responsive and find a resolve to everyone’s concerns. And I believe the commission is the right vessel to be able to do that,” says Councilwoman Chambers.
The members of the Commission who will join Councilwoman Chambers include:
- Ahmed Abdelmageed – United Way of Allen County Advocacy Committee Chair
- AlienNature – Protest and demonstration organizer/leader
- Sheila Curry-Campbell – Fort Wayne NAACP and Allen County Council member
- Rev. Dr. Anne Epling – First Presbyterian Church
- Larry Gist – MLK Club of Fort Wayne
- Carol Helton – City of Fort Wayne City Attorney
- Joe Jordan – Boys & Girls Clubs of Fort Wayne
- Brendon Maxwell – Utopian Coffee
- Marty Pastura – Empowerment Advisors
- Pastor Anthony Pettus – Greater Progressive Baptist Church
- Nikki Quintana – Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission
- Sofia Rosales-Scatena – Fort Wayne Police Department Public Information Officer
- Pastor Steve Terry – New Life Church of God
- Marlon Wardlow – Parkview Health and Fort Wayne Urban League
“Like, I think this is just the beginning. Like I said, there’s a lot of demands that need to be met still. Moving forward I’m hoping we can really meet everybody and meet the community’s demands and really reform a lot of things in the community that need to be changed,” says AlienNature, a member of the commission.
Fort Wayne Police Chief Steve Reed also went over his department is already adhering to the 8 Can’t Wait initiative as part of its policy. That initiative includes the ban of chokeholds/strangleholds, require de-escalation, require warning before shooting when possible, exhaust all alternatives before shooting, duty to intervene, band shooting at moving vehicles, establish use of force continuum, and require all force be reported.
WANE 15 asked Chief Reed what areas could still be worked on with the 8 Can’t Wait initiative.
“We do a ton of deescalation training. I mean a lot, more than most agencies just cause we have the luxury of having our own academy. But we can always try to be better, and that’s maybe one area that we’ll try to do even better in,” says Chief Reed.
Chief Reed also brought up how the department is already in the works of implementing body cams. Currently, the department is setting up an evidence storage system. A small group of officers will then receive body cameras, as part of a pilot program.
Once funding can be secured, all uniformed officers will be outfitted with a body camera.
Mayor Henry understands not everyone will be happy with this initiative.
“Well, I’m sure there’s certain individuals in this community who want us to move further faster. But this does take time. We plan on publishing all of the results of what comes out of those commission meeting and public safety meetings and the like. So, it’s going to take a little time to put all that together, but sometimes good things take awhile,” says Mayor Henry.
Other parts of the action plan from the City of Fort Wayne:
The City Administration, the Fort Wayne Police Department, and Fort Wayne UNITED will continue to build off of past and current successes with programming designed to educate and bring the community together. Examples include Community Unity nights, Blue Bucket Brigade, Procedural Justice courses, and L.I.V.E. (Listening to input and voices through engagement) sessions, to name a few.
Mayor Henry will reconvene the Mayor’s Roundtable on Public Safety. The Roundtable consists of individuals representing various organizations in the City of Fort Wayne to explore ways various community sectors can work together to enhance the overall safety of all Fort Wayne residents.
“We will get to where we want and need to be through dialogue, engagement, and trust with a focus on healing and understanding. I’m encouraged by the continued commitment of so many in our community to bring about positive and meaningful change to make Fort Wayne the best city possible,” said Mayor Henry. “We’re living in unprecedented times. Now is the time to move forward together so every resident who calls Fort Wayne home knows they are respected, appreciated, and valued.”