Willis vows public safety improvement for Westfield


From the start of his campaign, Mayor Scott Willis planned for progress in Westfield. Almost two months into his administration, he said those plans are starting to take shape, beginning with public safety.

On Feb. 22, Willis addressed about 240 constituents at the Westfield Chamber of Commerce monthly luncheon, held at the Prairie Waters Event Center.

Willis talked about the four pillars of his plan for advancing Westfield – public safety excellence, transparency and accountability, quality growth and livability and empowerment and improvement.

With regard to public safety, Willis said there is a crucial need for the city to invest in infrastructure and technology, especially for the Westfield Police Department.

“Folks, we are behind,” Willis said. “There are lots of things we’re behind on. Westfield since 2020 has grown by almost 33 percent operationally, and we spend less money per capita than any of our sister cities that are not growing nearly as fast. We are below average for the state of Indiana for the amount of money that we are investing into the community.”

Willis said he plans on updating the city’s strategic plan with the intention of investing wisely.

“I don’t think people moved to Westfield with the expectation that we weren’t going to create something special here,” he said. “We are sitting on a mound of cash right now, to the point that it’s almost an unhealthy amount. We’re taking your money and we’re sitting on it, and I don’t think that’s the right thing. We’re going to be thoughtful on how we move forward, but we’re going to start investing more in our community. It starts with public safety.”

Willis said the Westfield Police Station is in bad architectural shape and is being redesigned to have a safe and adequate place for WPD officers and staff. He said the building was designed prior to Sept. 11, 2001, and has not added post-Sept.11 standard upgrades for public safety buildings.

Willis said in addition to updating structures and technology, city staff is working to identify personnel needs, including a focus on mental well-being. He said even though Westfield is a safe community, first responders are still heavily affected by things they see every day, including tragedies that don’t necessarily make headlines.

“We’re lucky that they don’t experience the things that the police department in Indianapolis or Terre Haute or Kokomo might experience,” Willis said. “But still there are a lot of things that happen in our community that impact the mental well-being of our public safety officials. When you get that call and you show up in that environment, you never forget it. We owe it to these folks who put their lives on the line every single day for us. We owe them the best when it comes to their mental health.”

The WPD has a wellness program available to its 75-member department. Services include fitness, peer support, critical incident stress management and three chaplains.

For more, visit the public safety tab at westfield.in.gov.