Iowa City Council is holding a listening session on community policing at Mercer Park

Iowa City Council listening post

Mercer Park -- Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

An Iowa City Police Department vehicle in downtown Iowa City, May 29, 2019. — Zak Neumann/Little Village

The Iowa City Council will hold the first of six listening post events on police reform at Mercer Park on Wednesday evening. Each of the six planned events will focus on an issue important to improving community policing in Iowa City.

Wednesday’s listening post will focus on how to better handle situations involving mental health, crisis intervention and addiction. Becci Reedus of the Mobile Crisis Outreach/CommUnity Crisis Center and Ron Berg of Prelude Behavioral Services are scheduled to join Mayor Pro Tem Mazahir Salih, Councilmember Laura Bergus and Councilmember Janice Weiner.

The event will begin 5:30 p.m. at Mercer Park, 2701 Bradford Dr.

As part of the resolution passed on June 16 to address issues of systemic racism, the Iowa City Council has committed to restricting the Iowa City Police Department.

The first of the 17 points of the resolution, which were drafted in response to protests and community demands following the killing of George Floyd by members of the Minneapolis Police Department, addressed the city council’s plans for community policing.

By December 15, 2020, develop a preliminary plan to restructure the Iowa City Police Department (ICPD) towards community policing, including, but not limited to, reduction of the public’s reliance on police in non-violent situations through the use of unarmed professionals, and consideration of community policing initiatives in other cities, including, but not limited to, Minneapolis, MN, Camden, NJ, Los Angeles, CA and San Francisco, CA.

In addition to the listening posts, the city is collecting opinions on how policing should be changed through an online form available through its Black Lives Matter and Systemic Racism page. Opinions can be submitted anonymously using the online form.

Face coverings and social distancing will be required at the listening post event. (Iowa City’s public mask mandate has been extended through Nov. 13, and violations of the order are now punishable by a simple misdemeanor.) Face masks will be available for free to anyone who needs one.

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