Evansville City Council discusses police disbandment

Local News

EVANSVILLE, Ind (WEHT) Since the death of George Floyd, conversations have been sparked across the country on police and the need for reform, or even disbanding departments.

In Minneapolis, the city council is calling to disband its department following two weeks’ worth of protest against police brutality. Locally, some Evansville City Council members can’t get behind the idea of dismantling the police force.

“We all need some level of safety and protection,” Councilmember Alex Burton says he’s not calling to disband the police, but he knows some are.

We posed the question on our Eyewitness News Facebook page. The majority says it is a bad idea, but some think it’s worth a shot. Others say the current system simply needs reform.

One campaign gaining momentum since the death of George Floyd is called “8 Can’t Wait“. It details eight restrictions that could be put in place to reduce deaths involving police. Two examples include a ban on choke holds and shooting at moving vehicles.

Councilman Justin Elpers says the city has addressed some of the recommendations, “Some of those things we are currently doing or have been passed. One example would be the criminal justice reform. Under Trump and bipartisan support with Congress that was passed.”

Burton says the equipment EPD uses is an advantage to them, “The good thing that our police department has is body cameras. That’s something that every city across the country cannot relate to. So, in that regard, Evansville is extremely progressive.”

He also says, not only do body cameras hold officers accountable for their actions, but they work as a training tool.

Elpers says his constituents in the fifth ward haven’t expressed fear of police, “So that tells me that we have a good standing to police department and they’re out there serving the community and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

“My time, my focus, my energy is making sure that all the residents in Evansville, specifically in the fourth ward, continue to improve the relationship that they have with the police department,” Burton explains.

Police Chief Billy Bolin was not available for comment on this issue Monday.

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(This story was originally published on June 8, 2020)

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