The Zionsville Town Council recently formed a public safety task force after councilor Josh Garrett raised community safety concerns in the wake of the deadly Uvalde, Texas, school shooting.
After a brief discussion at the June 6 town council meeting, the task force was established June 8. The task force will examine issues related to community and school safety. It will be led by council members Alex Choi, Brad Burk and Josh Garrett.
According to a press release from the council, the task force will engage Mayor Emily Styron, the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, Zionsville Police Dept., Zionsville Fire Dept., teachers and administrators from Zionsville schools, mental health experts and others to create a comprehensive plan to address safety concerns. The task force will focus on prevention and responses to mass shootings.
At the council meeting, Garrett said gun control measures are determined at the federal and state level. A new law allowing Indiana residents to conceal-carry handguns without a permit will go into effect in July. In light of the growing national discussion about gun control, Garrett said the council can use its budget to help fund public safety needs.
“Whatever happens, the pragmatic reality of we as a community of Zionsville is, folks are operating with the legal framework created at a state and a federal level, so what is it we can do?” Garret said at the June 6 meeting. “We can give speeches, we can do proclamations, but pragmatically, we as a council have a budget that is our tool. How do we talk to those leaders about prevention? How do you prevent a mass shooting?”
Council President Jason Plunkett said local options are available to protect the community.
“This is not a partisan issue, but something we should all care about. Making this a priority ensures we are doing everything in our power to keep Zionsville safe,” Plunkett said.
Garrett said he wanted to establish a council task force to coordinate conversations with mental health and public safety organizations in Zionsville and Boone County.
“Is there something we can help fund more of? I want to hear what do (schools) need. Do they need more officers, do they need less officers?” Garrett said. “I want to hear all these things to understand what it is maybe we should do. Let’s not wait until the next budget. If (Zionsville Police Dept.) Chief (Michael) Spears says, ‘I need two more officers,’ then let’s fund it. I want to hear from public safety first.”
Garrett said the council has been approached with funding requests for other projects, but he wants to fund public safety requests first.
“I want to find out what they need. I want to fund it. Then, once I feel satisfied that they have everything they need, then I’m OK with funding other things,” he said.
The task force will immediately begin engaging stakeholders and assessing preparation levels and resources.
“We must find pragmatic solutions to prevent gun violence right here in our community using every means possible at the local level,” council member Alex Choi stated. “By ensuring public safety departments have the resources and staff needed to prevent and respond appropriately to public safety threats, we can be better prepared to protect against these events and become a safer community.”