Member News

Heritage Fund Aims to Improve Understanding Between Community, Law Enforcement

Monday, October 19, 2020

Bartholomew County Circuit Court Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative (JDAI) and Heritage Fund will offer a free information session designed to increase understanding between the community and law enforcement.

"Improving Police & Community Relations" will be led by Indiana State Police Capt. Ruben Marte from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 12 at The Commons. Through effective relations, citizens can learn about their roles in crime prevention and what to expect from the police, while law enforcement can better understand the community they serve and apply approaches to better address peace and order concerns.

The free session is open to members of the public age 13 and older. Social distancing and face masks are required. Due to CDC safety restrictions, participation is limited. Advance registration is required by contacting Bobbie Shake, Bartholomew Circuit Court JDAI coordinator/Juvenile Court assistant, at bshake@bartholomew.in.gov. Shake has taken the lead in bringing the cultural awareness program to the civilian population in Bartholomew County as part of JDAl's efforts in the area of race, equity and inclusion.

Marte is a 29-year veteran of the ISP, currently assigned to the Legal Office. He has trained hundreds of law enforcement officers and civilians throughout Indiana on gangs, excited delirium, cultural awareness and law enforcement interaction. He currently is a commissioner on Hispanic and Latino Affairs for the city of Bloomington and is a member of the Monroe County Sheriff's Merit Board.

Tracy Souza, Heritage Fund president and CEO, said, "Given the tension across the country between law enforcement and individuals, particularly individuals of color, this program seems tailor-made to help our community build important relationships that will help us acknowledge and avoid the issues faced by so many other communities."

Bartholomew County Sheriffs deputies, as well as all other BCSO employees, have received the six­ hour cultural awareness training from Marte'. Newer employees (deputies and all other staff) will receive training within the next few months. Marte' also will be providing refresher training for all Sheriff's Office employees.

"We realize the need for an increased understanding of a diverse population with whom our Sheriff's Office employees interact. The unique role of law enforcement makes cross-cultural understanding imperative," said Bartholomew County Sheriff Matthew A. Myers.

Columbus Police Department has committed to train all its officers as well.

"We are excited to welcome Capt. Marte' back to Columbus and look forward to participating in this forum so that we can continue the important conversations between law enforcement and the community in which we serve," Columbus Police Chief Michael Richardson said.

Heritage Fund's Committee for Racial Equity has been working with the Circuit Court and other organizations to bring additional training programs on racial equity and concerns regarding systemic racism to the broader community. Additional training and programs will be announced as they are scheduled.

"We are fortunate that there is a great appetite for discussions, training and conversations about racial equity in this community.  The Heritage Fund Board of  Directors  has added a racial equity initiative to  its agenda and will be actively studying and reflecting on how it can use its resources as a catalyst for positive change in racial equity as it has in other areas of community life," Souza said.

For more information about ISP civilian training, contact Bobbie Shake at bshake@bartholomew.in.gov.

For more information about racial equity work at HFBC, contact Tracy Souza at tsouza@heritagefundbc.org.

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