GARY — The city of Gary is preparing to reexamine the operations of its police department amid nationwide calls for reform following the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Mayor Jerome Prince on Monday pledged to sign an executive order this week establishing a police reform commission, made up of civic and business leaders, community activists, faith leaders and community organizations, that will propose meaningful changes to the city's police department.
As part of its work, Prince said the commission will investigate what, if any, policing responsibilities can and should be shared or shifted to other departments.
"I have always said public safety is my top priority," Prince said. "If that means considering new public safety models, then I am open to considering them."
Prince declined to explicitly ally himself with "defund the police" advocates because he said the notion of defunding the police "covers a wide spectrum of ideas."
"I can't speak to decisions on defunding other cities and towns because their leaders know their communities better than I do. If something along that spectrum makes the most sense for Gary, I will consider it," Prince said.
On Sunday, hundreds of people rallied at Gary City Hall to call for an end to systemic racism, police violence, police brutality, injustice, inequality and discrimination.
"This administration was the first administration to denounce the killing, and we called it a killing, of George Floyd," Prince said at the event.
"We denounced all brutal activity by all police officers across the country, particularly in the state of Indiana, and absolutely in the city of Gary."
Other Gary protests following Floyd's death have demanded more information about last summer's fatal shooting of 25-year-old Rashad Cunningham by a city police officer, who was responding to a report of shots fired.
The Lake County prosecutor's office has not yet determined whether that shooting was justified.
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