East side residents concerned about IMPD traffic stops

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Some people living on the east side say they’re shaken up and concerned after IMPD’s October enforcement sweep.

Local social justice organizations accuse IMPD of targeting people of color with traffic stops on the east side.

Satchuel Cole, vice president of “Don’t Sleep” says the traffic stops have made people in her east side neighborhood fearful.

“It has created just chaos and havoc because people are very afraid to drive,” said Cole. “They are not certain what will happen when they get pulled over, even when they have valid license and their registration is good and they’re not committing any crimes.”

But IMPD’s Kendale Adams says the intention was to stop people for traffic violations. He says during the sweep, as during any other time, officers only pull people over for not following traffic laws or under suspicion of breaking other laws.

Cole says even if the dozens of people pulled over did break minor traffic laws, targeting a specific area for those doing so doesn’t help police-community relations.

“Even if they did something illegal, like let’s say they didn’t have a license plate that didn’t have the illumination correct or something like that, is that really what we want to pull someone over for, when we have so many other things we could be focusing on?” asked Cole. “It just doesn’t make sense to us.”

Adams says those concerns are being addressed as beat officers head back to the neighborhoods where they made the traffic stops.

“Some of our officers are going back to those areas today to talk with those residents, to determine how effective was this operation,” said Adams.

From IMPD’s perspective, the traffic stops and sweeps in other districts were a direct response to community concerns about crime.

“People saying we are tired of seeing this particular activity on our streets,” said Adams. “We responded in a way that we thought was appropriate.”

Cole believes if IMPD was responding to the “Don’t Sleep” organization’s requests for meetings and transparency surrounding the stops, they’d know many people on the east side feel differently.

“We can’t have this as the new normal,” said Cole in response to Chief Troy Riggs’ assertion earlier this week concerning drug busts. “These raids cannot be the new normal for the east side. People of color, brown and black people cannot live in a constant state of fear.”

Adams says police only arrested four people during dozens of traffic stops here on the east side. He says that’s proof officers acted fairly.

He does echo the chief in saying this kind of activity aimed at drivers could return during future sweeps.

But he wants those who are concerned to know that if they ever feel an officer didn’t treat them the right way during a stop, IMPD needs to know. He suggests filling a formal complaint.

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