The Purpose of the Zionsville Public Safety Task Force
In the wake of the most recent mass shootings that have devastated communities throughout the nation, members of the Zionsville Town Council decided it was time to put their thoughts into purposeful actions.
Taking a Hard Look at Current Public Safety Measures
On June 8, 2022, the Zionsville Town Council announced the creation of a public safety task force to examine issues related to ensuring the safety of the community and the Zionsville students and staff at all area schools. The task force, led by councilors Alex Choi, Brad Burk and Josh Garrett, is evaluating staffing, training and equipment needs in order for the Town Council to work with the town’s administration to identify options to help address immediate needs before the next budget cycle.
“This task force is designed to get input from the key stakeholders to better understand what they need but to also help move the needle with actionable items,” Plunkett stated. “This [task force] is not politically motivated. It has everything to do with public safety. As the fiscal body for the town of Zionsville, if there is something that is needed by the police or fire departments, any staffing or other supports that are needed, we are certainly working together with the departments and the [town’s] administration to make sure that we are addressing those shortfalls and providing what is needed to all of our public safety officials.”
The town councilors are actively discussing ways to improve public safety, including measures that could be taken to prevent an event, such as the recent tragedies that occurred at Uvalde, Texas; Highland Park, Ill.; and as close to home as Greenwood, Ind. The councilors are also looking at how local governments can help address these challenges. The input and data, which will be reported back at town council meetings by the task force and eventually compiled in an executive summary, will better inform the town council on what actionable items are necessary, if any are identified during this examination process.
Minimizing Risk and Aftereffects of Violence
Town Council member Alex Choi is one the three councilors who is spearheading the Public Safety Task Force.
“We’re taking the lead on trying to figure out if we are doing the things that we are able to do to make sure that we are providing safety and minimizing [violent acts] from happening,” Choi explained. “We know that we can’t completely eliminate those events from occurring, but we are looking at what we are doing to deter those events and how would we minimize the effects if they occur.”
The immediate actionable items that the task force is working on include bringing on an intern and acclimating that person with the mission and key stakeholders. At the time of publication, Choi was working on selecting an intern, and the three councilors were in the process of contacting all of the stakeholders that include Zionsville Community Schools, Zionsville Police and Fire Departments, Boone County Sheriff Department, Mayor Emily Styron and the mental health organizations that service the communities of Zionsville and Boone [County].
Choi added, “The initial part is focused on gathering all the information and seeing where our deficiencies are, if we have any. There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, and we are trying to address those as well. We are looking at what other communities in this area and nationally are doing and looking at their best practices. Until we’ve looked at other places and what they have done, we’re not going to know what’s available to us.”
Bearing in mind that communities like Carmel and Whitestown don’t have the revenue to match Zionsville, Choi mentioned, “We don’t have the same kind of financial resources that other neighboring communities do because of [Zionsville] being primarily residential. That is going to be one of the biggest challenges.”
Additionally, Choi mentioned that the council will be discussing the community’s response to any acts of violence that impact the public safety of the community — specifically, addressing the mental health and post-event counseling needs of those that might be impacted by such an event.
The task force is planning to meet once every two weeks and will be providing status updates at the regularly scheduled Town Council meetings.
For questions related to the Public Safety Task Force, email town councilor Alex Choi at [email protected].