INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Members of the Indianapolis City County Council on Thursday discussed the decision by the IMPD Civilian Merit Board to clear two officers involved in the shooting of Aaron Bailey.
One week ago, the Merit Board determined that the officers had not violated department policy or training when they fatally shot 45-year-old Aaron Bailey.
City-County Council President Vop Osili said the council has spent the past week listening to Hoosiers’ reactions to the decision.
“Many members of the community feel mistrusted, misunderstood and devalued by those they see as being on the other side,” he said. “We also hear a plea in our communities and districts that we find a way forward.”
Osili said Indianapolis is now part of the national conversation about tensions between law enforcement and communities of color.
“This is not just about us. It’s a complex set of issues without a simple solution,” he said.
The council pledged to “find a path forward.”
Osili said they would be listening to residents, and plan to hold a series of conversations starting May 31 at King-Kennedy Park. More details about the conversations will be released soon.
After the decision was announced, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett said the “Merit Board system must be changed if we are to continue building bridges of trust between our brave police officers and the communities they proudly serve.”
Osili said there are ways to work on the Merit Board process. He said they can look at staggering terms and getting more community representation.
He said changing the Merit Board likely would not have impacted the outcome of this decision.
“I don’t know if it’s the structure of the Merit Board that would have made the difference, to be frank with you,” he said. “But it is on people’s lips, and because it is, we need to look at it.”
Osili said there is no silver bullet that will make a difference.
“The only way we’re going to address issues of trust is to hear where those issues are in the minds and the hearts of the community. We need to be smart and learn to listen.”
The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) issued this statement:
We applaud the words of our Council leaders today. Their focus is on proactively moving forward not looking backward while building trust and respect between our community and the rank and file of the police department.
Our collective organization of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police looks forward to participating in robust public discussions and solutions to help move our community forward.
Council President, Vop Osili, makes a key point that the focus should not be on changing the merit board system.
We want to thank our Indianapolis Council for their bipartisan focus on a nonpartisan issue…the health, well being and safety of our residents, visitors AND our law enforcement officers.
We only wish that our Mayor could have set this tone immediately following the Merit Board Decision. Instead his words led to division. We are hopeful the Mayor will reconsider his position and join all of us in positively moving forward.