LIMA — In a subdued Monday night meeting, Lima City Council discussed the efforts being made to mend communication lines between residents and city police.
The comments were spurred by a public comment by Jesse Lowe, a former council member, who spoke to council about a recent incident he had with a disrespectful police officer he would not publicly name. According to Lowe’s statement, the officer had tried to get Lowe to respond negatively and then damaged his property.
The public comment resulted in responses from a number of councilors about the need for continued conversation between residents and officers.
“There is a disconnect between community and police department, and we all have to — the community and the police department — we all have to work on this,” Councilor Carla Thompson said.
Councilor Jamie Dixon said he had had a similar incident to Lowe earlier this summer, and he had reached out to Police Chief Kevin Martin, who then apologized for the officer’s actions. That continued communication, Dixon said, is necessary for everyone to keep improving the city’s quality of life.
Councilor Rebecca Kreher said she’s seen the community and police officers get along well when presented with the right incentives. Kreher gave the example of this past weekend, when the Lima Police Department hosted a neighborhood cookout, handed out free hot dogs and provided an outlet for residents to dunk officers in a water tank.
A similar event meant to build bridges between officers and residents, primarily organized by Councilor Derry Glenn, is scheduled for next Wednesday. At that time, Bradfield Community Center will host the first Balling with Badges, where young people will be facing off against officers on the basketball court.
And then there’s National Night Out happening Tuesday. The national event allows officers and deputies from many of the region’s cities, towns and villages to interact with the residents they serve. Each councilor made sure to mention the event.
Lowe asked council to consider providing more funds to hire more officers to help curb the stress of the job on the city’s patrolmen.
Christopher Banks and Rev. Cleven Jones followed Lowe’s comment. Banks communicated the increased need for the city to go after landowners who may be ignoring the town’s property codes, and Jones spoke negatively about a comment made by Glenn, who pushed two predominantly black wards to hold Mayor David Berger more accountable because of their voting patterns during the last city council meeting. Jones said he hoped council would use more discretion and not use the wards as “political pinatas.”
Reach Josh Ellerbrock at 567-242-0398.