Minority IMPD officers push for diversity in recruiting, retention

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - Minority police officers in Indianapolis believe IMPD needs to do more to increase and retain diversity on the force.

Wednesday, they spoke before a city-county council committee to make their case for changes to the recruiting process.

"It is urgent, and it is critical," said Lt. John Walton, of the Minority Police Officers Association (MPOA).

Not holding back, Walton and others said their piece Wednesday night in front of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee.

Bottom line, the officers said, IMPD is not diverse enough, and the recruiting process needs an overhaul.

"We need to re-evaluate, re-look at the process, find out what we can improve and do better as an agency," said Walton.

Walton points to the makeup of a recruit class seated this year. Out of 76 officers, 58 are white, while 11 are African American. Five of those recruits are Latino, and two are Asian.

Walton said two previous classes seated in 2014 were more diverse, sparking more red flags this year.

"It's kind of like taking one step forward and two steps backward," he said.

The Minority Police Officers Association came to council members looking for support. They said IMPD needs more recruiters. The department currently has two.

They're also advocating for more money for minority outreach, and a more streamlined selection and hiring process that involves the whole community, including city-county councilors, businesses, and schools.

"This is something we wanted to be an eye opener, an invitation to speak to the issues. You can't fix a problem if you don't acknowledge it's a problem," said Walton.

Councilors seemed stunned by the presentation. The committee chair afterward said the officers' account raised real issues.

"It's key for the city overall to be reflective of the minority population here. And if it's not, then they're not taking the right steps to make it happen," said Mary Moriarty Adams, City-County Councilor.

The MPOA said retention of minorities is an issue, too. Their plan is to put together a comprehensive document outlining what needs to change and submit it to city-county councilors, IMPD, and the Department of Public Safety.

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