Local progressives who supported John Fernandez in 1995 because of his tough talk on the police should take special note of his latest claim in the 2002 campaign.

The Lafayette Journal and Courier reported on Friday that Bloomington's absentee mayor/secretary of state candidate took credit for reducing violent crime here in our gritty little town by packing the streets with cops.

Here's how the paper reported Fernandez' remarks at a news conference at Purdue: "Fernandez said his administration increased Bloomington's police force by 25 percent since his election in 1995. Since then, violent crime has decreased by 8 percent, he said. … 'It's a question of setting priorities and getting resources.'"

After pledging to hire more white-collar cops to make Indiana a safer place for those with money to invest, Fernandez met with some Lafayette-area Latinos, apparently convincing them he has some sort of record on Latino issues here at home.

Again, the Journal and Courier: "Fernandez also shared advice about grants and resources with Soledad Smith, founder of the Latino Coalition of Tippecanoe County. Smith said she admired Fernandez for coordinating political activism among his city's Latino constituency."

Finally, before delivering the keynote address at the Tippecanoe County Democrats' annual Jefferson-Jackson Day Dinner, Fernandez was escorted around by Indiana College Democrats President Ryan Hatton, a Purdue senior majoring in business management.