Carmel councilor requests annual, mandatory diversity training for city employees 

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As a member of the city council in one of the state’s wealthiest communities, Sue Finkam believes Carmel needs to be a leader in providing education about diversity and inclusion.

That’s why she’s asking Mayor Jim Brainard to make annual diversity and inclusion training mandatory for city employees and officials.

“Because we’re blessed with good resources, we’re blessed with an elevated sense of responsibility to lead in this area,” Finkam said.

Brainard didn’t commit to the request when Finkam mentioned it at the June 15 city council meeting, but in a June 18 email he stated that he is reviewing current practices with Barb Lamb, the city’s human resources director, and plans to make a recommendation to the council.

In 2018-19 the city offered workplace conduct training, which covered diversity, inclusion and harassment issues. It was required for all employees, but not for those serving on boards and commissions. Lamb said the city plans to offer the training every few years, but that could change.

“With the full support of the mayor and the council, we are assessing what we have done in the past and how we can do better in the future,” Lamb said. “The challenge is to provide training that is engaging, thought-provoking and persuasive.”

Finkam, who has experience as a human resources director, said she views diversity and inclusion education as being as important as safety and emergency training that are required in many workplaces.

She said she has had discussions with Lamb about creating an innovative training program that she hopes will be offered to the public in the future.

At the same time, Finkam is working on a resolution offering support for several Carmel Police Dept. initiatives, such as using body cameras, publishing an annual use of force report and recruiting women and people of color. The resolution draft encourages continuation of these and other practices “whenever possible.” The council is set to discuss the resolution at its July 6 meeting.

Finkam’s training request was prompted by the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis Police Dept. custody and subsequent protests throughout the nation, but her work and interest in diversity education and “excellence in policing” began before Floyd’s death.

CPD presented its use-of-force training to the city council in December, and after going through the process Finkam said she asked CPD Chief Jim Barlow to make the training available to the public so residents can learn how police are instructed to handle dangerous situations. Barlow agreed, however a date for the public training has not been scheduled yet.

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