Chief Brendan Heffner

NIOTBN Continues to Seek Welcoming Message

Gabe Pishghadamian


The discussion continues in Bloomington to make the city a welcoming place for immigrants. 

Local groups for immigrant protections and rights are coming forward to pressure city officials to continue the conversation about a potential ordinance. 

The groups say city council members aren't listening. 

Bloomington PD say it's their job to serve and protect all under the law, but local activists involved with "Not in Our Town" say they want their city to be safe for everyone, including so-called Dreamers. 

"The main motivation is to build a positive relationship between city services and the immigrant community," says Mike Matejka, Not in Our Town.

Bloomington is home to colleges, busy streets, local shops and Dreamers. 

"Not it Our Town" has always stood for an inclusive community," says Matejka. "Everybody is a part of the community. Everybody should be respected. Everybody should be welcome."

The group believes city leaders are not having the conversation of protecting immigrants after dropping the topic from their agenda. 

"Too often our immigrant community lives in the shadows and even though they are very much a part of daily life," says Matejka. "They need the full protections and the full involvement that's available to them."

The Illinois Trust Act is a state effort to make Illinois a welcoming place for immigrants, but there are citizens who do oppose the idea saying the ordinance would go against federal law.

"If you pass this, you will handcuff the police even further."

There will be demonstrating outside city hall in Bloomington this Sunday at 6 pm and again on Monday.

Activists also plan to fast as part of their demonstration. 

Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner says no one has been deported by his department since before he became chief. 

Officer Reprimanded; Heffner 'Deeply Saddened' By Remark

Kevin Barlow


Bloomington Police Department will join with other local law enforcement agencies for a Breaking Barriers community-police dialogue from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at Bloomington's City of Refuge Church, 401 East Jefferson. The event is open to the public.

Bloomington Police Department will join with other local law enforcement agencies for a Breaking Barriers community-police dialogue from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at Bloomington's City of Refuge Church, 401 East Jefferson. The event is open to the public.

A Bloomington police sergeant received a written reprimand in 2013 after he was recorded on an in-car police camera saying he hoped a black stabbing victim "bleeds to death."

According to a document obtained Wednesday by The Pantagraph through a Freedom of Information Act request, Edward Shumaker received the reprimand following a Sept. 4, 2013, meeting with R.T. Finney, who was then interim police chief, and Assistant Police Chief Clay Wheeler.

The comment was made during a conversation with officer Stephen Statz about 2:05 a.m. on June 30, 2013, after police responded to a fight inside the Denny's Restaurant at 701 S. Eldorado Road in Bloomington.

The video and recording were made public last week during the trial of Gabriella Calhoun, who was charged with hitting a police officer inside the restaurant. Calhoun was acquitted.

The written reprimand came as a result of conduct unbecoming of an officer, according to the record of disciplinary action.

The reprimand was signed by Finney and Shumaker and included a summary of corrective action: "Employee should be very aware of his surroundings and situational awareness while not allowing the stressor of an event to cause a comment that would be considered inappropriate."

Current Police Chief Brendan Heffner said Wednesday police officials are "disturbed and deeply saddened that one of our officers made such comments," but take a variety of factors into consideration when determining disciplinary action.

"There had not been a pattern of this type of behavior and that is a factor when we are considering discipline and there have not been any issues since," he said. "We have all learned from this, but I have spoken with every shift and reminded our officers that whether they are being recorded or not, these comments are inappropriate and not acceptable."

After learning of the reprimand Wednesday, Mayor Tari Renner said, "This is deeply disturbing to me as a mayor and a citizen. This is not the Bloomington that I want for the future as mayor. We are better than this."

Renner said he is pleased the records were released, adding he has talked with the City Council, adding aldermen should consider a review of the consequences officers should face for racial remarks.

City Manager David Hales said he was troubled and upset that a Bloomington police officer made the comments.

"Such comments are unacceptable anywhere in our organization and not indicative of the city’s values," he said. "Chief Heffner has made great strides in training his officers and further developing a culture that accepts and celebrates diversity, and I look forward to continuing work with him on these efforts."

Heffner said the department will continue to work with civic leaders and organizations to improve relations with the community.

"I want our citizens to know we are working together and always there to serve and protect them," he said.

BDP Apologizes for Officer's Racial Statement; Breaking Barriers Community/Police Forum Jan. 22

Kevin Barlow

The Pantagraph

An audio recording of a Bloomington police officer saying he hoped a black stabbing victim "bleeds to death," which was played to a judge Thursday, prompted the police chief to say the officer was disciplined.

Separately, a coalition of organizations and public officials announced a community-police dialogue session on Jan. 22. (NOT IN OUR TOWN:BLOOMINGTON-NORMAL is one of the upcoming forum's sponsors)

"As your chief of police, I want you to know that our police department does not condone these types of comments and they do not reflect the department as a whole," Chief Brendan Heffner said in a prepared statement issued in response to the events at the Gabriella Calhoun trial.

Chief Brendan Heffner, right, with Mayor Renner, at NIOT:BN's December relaunch.

Chief Brendan Heffner, right, with Mayor Renner, at NIOT:BN's December relaunch.

(Heffner attended NIOT's Dec. 9 relaunch and was one of the first to sign the group's new anti-bigotry/anti-bullying pledge, along with Bloomington Mayor Tari Renner)

Several organizations and public officials are sponsoring a public gathering on "breaking barriers," from 6 to 8 p.m. Jan. 22 at City of Refuge Church, Bloomington.

The 19-year-old Bloomington woman faces felony charges of aggravated battery and resisting a police officer stemming from a fight at a Bloomington restaurant in June 2013.

Prosecutors say Calhoun was among several hundred people who went to a party at Lucky Garden restaurant on Eldorado Road. Many of those in attendance, including Calhoun, then went to the nearby Denny's after the party ended.

According to testimony Thursday, a brawl erupted inside the restaurant and Officer Stephen Statz witnessed a black man with a knife wound leaving the restaurant. Later, Sgt. Ed Shumaker received an update from Statz.

Defense attorney Steve Skelton attempted to enter into evidence their conversation as recorded by a Bloomington police in-car camera.

Assistant State's Attorney Samantha Walley objected and the jury was sent from the courtroom while the profanity-laced conversation was heard by Costigan in open court.

On the tape, and in reference to the apparent stabbing, a man identified as Shumaker was heard asking Statz if the wounded man was black.

"Yes," Statz replied.

"Good, I hope he (expletive) bleeds to death in Normal," Shumaker said.

"Yeah," Statz answered.

Skelton argued that Statz's answer implied he was biased against his client and blacks in general.

"He hears the statement, and he adopts and agrees with it and that brings a bias toward my client," Skelton said.

Walley argued the statement was irrelevant because the comments had nothing to do with the charges against Calhoun.

"He (Shumaker) appeared after the fact and his comment has no relationship whatsoever to the case," she said. "It is being offered for no other reason except to upset the jury."

In his decision to bar the comment, Costigan said the case would be decided on its merits and a comment from one member of the department that could be construed as racist, should not be applied to every officer.

Following the ruling, Skelton asked for the mistrial based on the ruling that Costigan quickly denied.

Calling the comment "inappropriate," Heffner's statement said, in part: "We are disturbed and deeply saddened that one of our officers made such comments.

"In July 2013, the police administration conducted an in-depth review of the incident and acted swiftly to address the issue. As a result, the department administered discipline to the employee in question."

Heffner, who was not chief at the time of the incident, did not specify what disciplinary action was taken.

Thursday afternoon, a coalition announced the dialogue session.

"The program is an attempt to foster positive dialogue between citizens and law enforcement," their statement said.

The sponsors are: Not In Our Town, Bloomington/Normal; NAACP; Minority & Police Partnership; League of Women Voters; Bloomington, Normal, Illinois State University and McLean County sheriff's police; the McLean County state's attorney's office; Bloomington & Normal Trades & Labor Assembly (AFL-CIO); and 100 Black Men of Central Illinois.

The Rev. Lee Bennett of City of Refuge will moderate; Conexiones Latinas will provide Spanish translation services.

People are encouraged to send questions in advance, and they may remain anonymous. Post them at or mail them to the NAACP, PO Box 925, Normal, IL 61761.