• Mayor’s proposal for spending 36M$ in ARPA funding

    By: Keri Yousif

    The City of Terre Haute has nearly $36 million of committed ARPA funds. ARPA stands for the American Rescue Plan Act, signed by President Biden in 2021, which allotted $65.1 billion of aid to municipalities across the country.

    On February 2, 2023, Mayor Duke Bennett presented an initial proposal to the City Council on how Terre Haute might spend those funds. The Mayor’s proposal would allocate the most money, $9 million, to public spaces, which includes $4 million for City Hall (electrical and HVAC updates, as well as flooring and paint), and $5 million for city parks.

    The Mayor named Herz-Rose, Fairbanks and Rea Parks, and Deming Pool as proposed sites for select projects. Infrastructure is listed as $5.5 million, divided between $3.5 million for 13th Street and 8th Avenue storm and wastewater projects and $2 million for a Brown Avenue storm water project.

    Next is housing:  $5 million. The Mayor cited possible partners as the Terre Haute Area Association of Realtors, Mental Health America, and Habitat for Humanity. Downtown development would receive $4 million, with a hotel parking garage and possibly an additional hotel suggested.

    Public Safety is slated for $3.2 million for an upgrade in radio communication for all city services. The Mayor proposed $1.75 million in small business assistance, listing minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, LGBTQ+-owned businesses, in addition to small business support and new business development.

    An early childhood facility and programming would receive $1 million. $500,000 would go to non-profit project support, $500,000 to food deserts (food banks, meal sites), and $250,000 to the Vigo County Humane Shelter, the money to help fund a low-cost animal clinic, including a “low or no-cost spay and neuter program.” The Mayor’s proposal totals $30.7 million, with $592,205 in remaining funds.

    The Mayor stated that the city and the county are working together to coordinate and thus maximize the use of city and county ARPA funds. He also noted that some of the proposed projects are linked to state READI funds (Regional Economic Acceleration and Development Initiative) and several have matching requirements, including matching funds from private investment.

    Following the February city council meeting, the Council and the Mayor have scheduled a special meeting, during which time the Mayor and the City Council will discuss the ARPA proposal in detail. The meeting will be open to the public (Monday, May 22 at 5 p.m. at City Hall); however, it will be closed to public comment. The public will have an opportunity to respond to the ARPA proposal and its details at the June City Council meeting.

    Find out more:

    The exact amount of committed funds for the City of Terre Haute is $35,936,890.00:

    For more information on ARPA funds:

    You can track how cities are spending their ARPA funds at:

    For more information on Indiana READI funds:

    See Mayor Bennett’s initial presentation of proposed use of ARPA funds to the City Council:

    See also the video of Mayor Bennett’s presentation to the City Council on 2/2/23 (time stamp, 32:45):

  • Haute Profiles: Patrick Dunham

    By: Keri Yousif

    Patrick Dunham is a few years from retirement, but nothing about his life says he will quit working. His passion? Engines:  “I learned how to repair cars when I was a kid. I’d go up the street to a neighbor’s house, and he taught me everything, how to build and repair engines.”

    Engine is a good word for Mr. Dunham. In his 60s, he is his own engine of sorts, a locomotive of physical and mental activity, restoring and rebuilding old pick-up trucks. And then there are the vintage bicycles, the custom trailers, and the motorcycles.

    “I had to give up the motorcycles. With everyone on their phones, texting, I just had too many close calls.” For the moment, it’s just pick-up trucks. He restored a 1963 GMC for his son, and he is working on a 1955 Chevy, which was a gift from his father.

    The inside has been restored, and the front frame is covered in a layer of matte primer. Under the hood is the new engine:  intricate, pristine, built by hand, and the inside of the hood has been painted a deep burnt orange, a teaser for what is to come.

    “I got it from my dad when I was 18 years old,” Mr. Dunham explained. “It’s been in the garage for so long. I’ve been working on it for the past 15 years. You know, when I was raising my two boys, there never seemed to be time for me.” A small tabby, Miss Kitty, patrols the garage while we talk, weaving in and out of the frames.

    Dunham’s maternal family emigrated from Hungary to the United States. His mother moved from Buffalo, NY to Evansville, IN during WWII to work in the Evansville Shipyard, which made Landing Ship Tanks. There, his mother met his father, who was in the U.S. Navy.

    His father worked in steel mills, drove trucks, and was self-taught as a cutler: “My mother was homesick for New York, so they moved out to Buffalo for a few years, and my dad worked in the steel mills for a while.” Mr. Dunham said his family used to visit Buffalo every couple of years, taking the train from Terre Haute to Buffalo and later making the drive.

    These days, Dunham is focused on the 55’ Chevy, and the custom trailer in progress behind it:  “I go to car shows, show the truck. I’m thinking of restoring an old teardrop trailer. Then when I go, you know like to Evansville and it’s a three-day event, I’ll just crawl in the back and sleep.”

    Mr. Dunham has lots of projects on his list:  maybe an addition to the garage, fixing up a slot car racing track, the teardrop trailer, but as he gets closer to retirement he said he might just “kick back a bit, sit on my feet, and let my dog run around.”

  • Over a million dollars a year distributed to local child care facilities.

    For more than a decade a well known local non-profit has been quietly helping distribute over a million dollars a year to local child care providers through the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program.

    According to the program’s director, Terri Hemminghouse, Chances and Services for Youth has been helping distribute the Department of Agriculture’s CACFP grant for 30 years.

    When contacted, many providers praised the program explaining that the help covering food costs has enabled them stay in business and hire additional staff to care for their kids.

    CASY partners with over a hundred child care providers in the Wabash Valley, and the approximately $1.4 million dollars they help distribute goes to reimburse these facilities for meals and snacks.

    Hemminghouse described how during the pandemic CASY helped pack meals for low income families whose parents were either unemployed or working from home.

    The Child and Adult Care Food Program is funded by the Department of Agriculture and administered by the Indiana Department of Education. Nationally the program claims to help over 4.2 million children.

    There are several guidelines to be eligible for the program. Child care providers must be licensed or have an approved license exemption and meals served must meet the IDOE’s nutrition recommendations.

  • Citizen’s request free access to body-camera footage at city council.

    – Keri Yousif

    Matt Larimer* addressed the Terre Haute City Council on Thursday, February 2, 2023, asking the city to reduce or eliminate the fee for body camera footage “from police officers involving uses of force.”

    Mr. Larimer explained that under the current city policy, which charges $150 per video, an individual making a request for footage from three officers involved in the same incident would be required to pay $450.00 for the videos from the single incident.

    He also stated that when someone’s mug shot circulates, via the press and/or social media, and the individual appears to have suffered injuries, rumors circulate speculating on what may or may not have happened during the incident.

    “I think,” said Larimer, “that making this body cam footage more accessible will help to eliminate those rumors; it will help to keep police accountable, but it will also help police when they’ve done the right thing, and then it is shown that it’s the right thing.”

    Currently Indianapolis charges $50 for a video under 30 minutes, $100 for a video from 30-60 minutes, and $150 for a video over 60 minutes. Under current state regulations, the maximum amount a city is allowed to charge for a body cam video is $150.

    As Larimer notes, Terre Haute currently charges the maximum allowed for each video, regardless of length. Larimer asked that Terre Haute be a “leader in the state” by giving free access to body camera footage in incidents where there is a use of force, the goal being to provide accountability and to build trust in the community. 

    The City Attorney, Eddie Felling responded to Mr. Larimer’s request making several points, namely citing the number of videos and the time and labor involved in reviewing those videos before they can be released.

    Felling stated that in 2022, there was a total of 413 incidents of use of force in Terre Haute, with a total of 728 officers involved in those 413 incidents. For each officer, there is the possibility of a body cam, a dash cam and/or an in-car or rear-view camera, all of which multiplies the number of possible videos per incident.

    Mr. Felling went on to note that each video must be manually reviewed and possibly redacted before release so that no protected or confidential information is released, such as individual health information, license plate numbers, the inside of an individual’s home, or the presence of a minor.

    He also cited an example in which one incident included three dash cam videos and one body cam video, totaling 11 hours and 40 minutes of video time, for which the city collected $450 for the video request.

    Felling estimated, however, that the paralegal who reviewed and redacted the videos before release spent over 41 hours completing the work, costing the city $1,500.

    He cited proposed Indiana House Bill 1142, which would revise the current limits on charges for body cam footage by allowing state and local agencies to include labor costs incurred to obscure non-disclosable information in the recording and perform an administrative review of the recording.

    “I understand,” Mr. Felling concluded, “why someone would ask for this, but please keep in mind that we make these videos available, and what we charge is nothing compared to what we put into it.” 

    Councilperson Martha Crossen asked Mr. Felling how many requests for body camera footage the city typically receives. Felling did not have that information available but said he would provide the council with the requested information.

    Councilperson Crossen noted that “One of the major reasons for us investing in body cams was to have this information available precisely for the reasons Mr. Larimer designated, which are to both protect the public and to protect the force, our police officers from false claims. . . . obviously, it’s a balance . . . but certainly, it’s worth reviewing.”

    Terre Haute resident Ralph Leck also spoke to the issue, asking the city council to “take Mr. Larimer’s request seriously.” In Mr. Leck’s words:  “Why do we have these videos if we can’t gain access to them?”

    Mr. Leck noted that the number of incidents with use of force—cited as 413 incidents in 2022 by Mr. Felling—is a number that serves as an “economic barrier” to access body cam footage:  a large number of incidents equals a large number of body cam videos, which results in a burden on the city to review and redact the videos, culminating with increased costs for the city.

    But, Mr. Leck argued, the high number of incidents with use of force is also the very same reason why the public should have access to the body cam footage. As Mr. Leck concluded, “if it’s 400 [incidents with use of force], we’ve got a problem; we’ve got more than one a day.” 

    * Disclosure:  Matt Larimer is an editor and writer for Vice News Terre Haute

    You can fact check this article and find out more at the sources listed below:

    YouTube recording, Terre Haute City Council Meeting, 2/2/23 

    City of Terre Haute Office of Public Information 

    State-regulated cost of body cam footage:  see Indiana legislation, Second Regular Session of the 119th General Assembly, 2016, page 21, g1 “the agency’s direct cost of supplying the information in that form. However, the fee for a copy of a law enforcement recording may not exceed one hundred fifty dollars ($150).” 

    Proposed House Bill 1142: 

  • Indy police spending millions in overtime to patrol violent bars and clubs.

    Violence continues to plague bars and clubs in Indianapolis, despite aggressive policing by the city. An investigation by IndyStar and Fox59 found that the state’s inadequate regulation, poor oversight, and lax enforcement has allowed violence to persist at these establishments.

    On May 23, 2021, Joseph Ajiboye visited Club Kalakutah in Indianapolis for a night out, only to end up being rushed to the hospital with a bullet wound in his leg. The incident marked the fifth time in over a year that shots were fired at the Lafayette Square-area club, one of many establishments in the city plagued by violence.

    According to police, this time the shooter was one of the club’s unlicensed and heavily armed security guards, who fled the scene after the shooting. When officers arrived, the club locked its doors and refused to cooperate with the authorities.

    This disturbing incident is just one example of the rampant violence that has plagued Indianapolis bars, nightclubs, and event centers in recent years. According to an investigation by IndyStar, there have been over 600 reports of violent acts tied to such establishments.

    Despite repeated warnings from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), Club Kalakutah was allowed to continue operating, despite its lengthy history of problems. IMPD has reported unlicensed boxing matches, illegal strip shows, and several assaults at the club.

    Despite frequent visits from the police, IMPD has claimed that it is powerless to shut down the club, as it is prohibited by state law from regulating alcohol businesses. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated issue in Indianapolis.

    The state’s Alcohol & Tobacco Commission, which has the authority to regulate alcohol businesses, is a small agency with just 73 excise officers to monitor over 15,000 bars, restaurants, and stores that sell alcohol, and rarely intervenes when violence erupts.

    The state has also reduced the number of violations issued to businesses and underage drinking checks by 80% since 2014, and the nuisance bar program created in 2019 has proven to be largely ineffective.

    Unlike neighboring states, Indiana law prohibits cities from using nuisance ordinances to regulate alcohol establishments, leaving local police powerless to deal with the violence.

    The investigation by IndyStar and Fox59 found that the inadequate regulation, poor oversight, and lax enforcement by the state has created a culture of impunity in many Indianapolis bars and clubs, with shootings, drugs, and sexual assaults becoming all too common.

    IMPD’s Assistant Chief Chris Bailey expressed frustration at the lack of local authority over these establishments, saying, “It’s frustrating to us that we have very little local authority and local controls over those establishments that serve alcohol.”

    The problem is being exacerbated by the fact that bar owners and their attorneys are aware of the limits imposed by state law, making it difficult for the police to take any meaningful action.

    The problems faced by Indianapolis bars and clubs are also spilling over into nearby businesses and neighborhoods, putting innocent people at risk, driving down property values, and putting a strain on police resources.

    Despite repeated requests for comment, the Alcohol & Tobacco Commission declined to be interviewed for the investigation. In a statement, the commission claimed that “public safety and security at bars and other establishments” are of the utmost importance, and that it receives routine updates from local law enforcement.

    However, the findings of the investigation suggest that much more needs to be done to address the rampant violence plaguing Indianapolis bars and clubs and ensure the safety of the public.

    – This article was written with the assistance of ChatGPT

  • Report shows thirty percent increase in Terre Haute Police Department’s use of force.

    According to a report released by the Terre Haute Police Department, incidents involving uses of force rose from 316 in 2021 to 413 in 2022, approximately a thirty percent increase.

    Also included in the report were the total number of calls for service (45,638), the number of times tasers were used (138), K-9s were deployed (18), and firearms were drawn (158).

    When the data was broken down by race it showed that of the 413 use of force incidents 328 involved white residents, 100 black, 4 hispanic, and 0 “other.” The report can be read in it’s entirety here.

    Reflecting on the racial data was the following quote, “There was not a correlation…demonstrating excessive force…toward one specific demographic over another.” It is unclear, however, what metric was used to make this determination.

    Several THPD officers are currently defendants in a civil lawsuit, claiming racial bias, filed by Jeremy Ross with the US District Court of Southern Indiana. Ross is claiming officers used excessive force during his arrest in March of 2020.

    In documents filed with the court Ross writes, “…officers shot me six times…they drug me from the vehicle, they tazed me and choked me until I was unconcious…” Ross is asking that disciplinary action be taken against the officers, and $4 million in damages.

    Counsel for the officers filed a motion for summary judgement on December 22nd, 2022, and magistrate judge Kendra Klump granted an extension for the attorney’s representing Ross to respond by February 6th, 2023.

  • Documentary released bringing attention to “torture” in Harrison County jail.

    Warning: Extremely Graphic Content

    Findings from Indianapolis Star investigative reporters has been used to create a short documentary film titled, “Safe Place,” which focuses on the 2018 death of Jerod Draper in the Harrison County jail.

    Video footage from the facility’s security system shows jailers strapping Draper naked to a restraint chair, and then choking and tasing him repeatedly while he was unable to move.

    Draper informed jail staff that he had used drugs the night of his arrest and according to medical examiner Bill Smock died due to lack of appropriate medical treatment for methamphetamine toxicity.

    In response to the video Dr Smock said, “what I saw was a corrections nurse…torturing an inmate.” Jail commander Dustin Cundall claimed the pain compliance techniques used were justified.

    Harrison County settled a lawsuit for $1 million dollars with the family of Jerod Draper, whose teenage daughter received the money, but even after video evidence was provided to the FBI no criminal charges have been filed.

    According to the Indy Star’s investigative series “Death Sentence” they identified, “more than 300 deaths since 2010. All told, the toll amounted to the death of a prisoner every two weeks for more than 11 years.”

    Questions still remain about the treatment of Danny Hicks and Adam Bryant in the Vigo County jail last year. Terre Haute Vice News has filed public records requests with the Indiana State Police for the investigations into their deaths.

  • Brutal body camera footage released of Memphis police beating Tyre Nichols.

    Warning Extremely Graphic Content:

    Please consider signing this petition asking local law enforcement to immediately release body camera footage, free of charge, for any incident involving a use of force.

  • National Guard troops activated in Atlanta after Governor declares state of emergency.

    Photo posted on Georgia Law Enforcement Facebook page

    Georgia Governor Brian Kemp has announced a state of emergency and activated 1,000 National Guard troops in response to the ongoing violent protests in downtown Atlanta.

    The decision follows a shooting that occurred near a future law enforcement training site where a Georgia state trooper was injured and a man was killed. The state of emergency will remain in effect until February 9th, unless renewed by the governor.

    The protests, which have been ongoing for months, are centered around the construction of the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, nicknamed “Cop City”.

    On January 18th, a Florida State University student named Paez Teran was shot and killed by law enforcement after authorities claim he shot and wounded a state trooper during a planned operation to remove protestors from the area.

    In the following days, six individuals were arrested in connection with protests at “Cop City” that led to property damage, including the burning of a police vehicle. Some of the arrested protestors were found with explosives, according to Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens.

    The state of emergency declaration authorizes the Georgia National Guard to be used in response to continued protests and gives the activated troops the power of arrest and apprehension, similar to that of law enforcement officers.

    Governor Kemp stated “Georgians respect peaceful protests, but do not tolerate acts of violence against persons or property.”

    This article was written with the assistance of ChatGPT

  • Judge throws out child molestation case due to Hamilton County Prosecutor’s mistakes.

    According to the Indy Star, the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office was found to have mishandled a case against a man named Gregory Whitmore, who was accused of child molestation by his former stepchild. The allegations were first presented to authorities in 2018, when the minor was 14 years old.

    Despite multiple requests, the prosecution failed to provide over 10 terabytes of digital data from electronic devices associated with both Whitmore and the teenager. This data was believed to contain alibi information supporting Whitmore’s claim of innocence.

    The case reached a premature end in June, when a judge discharged Whitmore and ordered the prosecution to pay more than $100,000 of his legal fees.

    The judge, William J. Hughes, wrote in a December order that the delays were “so egregious and so extensive” that they infringed on Whitmore’s constitutional right to fair treatment in the judicial system.

    He cited multiple false representations made by prosecutors to the court and Whitmore’s legal team, stating that all evidence had been produced.

    The judge also noted that the blame for the mishandling of the case primarily lies with the former head of the prosecution office, Lee Buckingham, and not his deputies.

    He called it “gross negligence” for Buckingham not to inquire more deeply with Fishers police, and not to have a policy in place to ensure that deputy prosecutors identified and handed over evidence favorable to the defendant.

    The judge also warned that these types of critical evidence delays may not be isolated to the Whitmore case. The Indiana Attorney General’s Office has since appealed the court’s decision.

    It is important to note that the judge did not find that prosecutors were intentionally trying to conceal evidence. Also, the teen’s mother said in a statement that the missteps that unraveled the case amounted to an “utter failure” on the part of authorities.