EVANSVILLE, In. (WEHT) — As controversy continues around leadership at the Evansville Police Department, City Council candidates at Thursday’s forum discussed police and community relations.
Candidates for city council filled the chairs to face off ahead of the November 5th election.
Candidates answered written questions from the crowd, and topics ranged from recycling to policing problems.
Questions were submitted in writing by the audience, and read by a moderator.
“What would you do to foster and improve the relationship between Evanville Police and the community, especially for minority groups?”
“When you identify a conflict between the police and some minority populations, at least admitting that that might be a problem, is the first issue,” answered Democratic 1st Ward candidate.
“What we need is training and we need education,” said 5th Ward Democratic candidate Jennifer Yaser. “I have seen probation officers and officers that are able to de-escalate a situation,and I have seen some that are horrible at escalating situations.”
“Even though tensions can run high, it’s important to have the police involved in the conversation,” said at-large Democratic candidate Gina Robinson Ungar, “not feeling like we’re talking about them without them being here.”
“We have to come together,” said 3rd Ward Democratic candidate Zach Heronemus. “Collectively, not just to have conversations but conversations that have positive outcomes.”
An audience member then asked about the city’s finances.
“It’s not cheap,” answered Democratic at-large candidate Jonathan Weaver. “Somebody mentioned 37 million dollars, that’s pittance. It costs 36 million dollars to run the police department.”
“We do need to look at how things are allocated and as Johnathan said, things are expensive,” added 6th Ward Republican Paul Abramson.
“It’s all about decisions. By the time it gets to city council, you can cut things but you can’t add things,” said Republican at-large Ron Beane.
“One of the things I call for is that another audit be done,” said Alex Burton, 4th Ward Democratic candidate. “I want to make sure we’re doing the right things and moving responsibly.”
While the forum started with police transparency, it ended with a question about City Council’s:
“I always hold office hours for my students. And that is one thing I can promise right here and you can take it to the bank, I will have office hours,” said 2nd Ward Republican candidate Natalie Rascher.
“Taking calls, answering emails is the most important thing about being involved in local government.,” said at-large Democratic candidate Kaitlyn Moore Morley. “That’s what makes us different than just about any other branch of government.”
Other topics addressed included climate change and homelessness in Evansville.