INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced that by the end of the summer, hundreds of IMPD officers will be wearing body cameras, and by the end of the year, there will be more community oversight of officers’ actions.
The announcement comes in the wake of protests following the fatal police action shooting of a man who an officer said fired at him during a foot pursuit.
“I am listening and learning from you and I see the frustration and the heartbreak that our city endures as we respond to these tragedies,” said Hogsett during a morning briefing with reporters. “I share that heartbreak.”
Hogsett indicated that after several years of study and pilot programs, the first body worn cameras for IMPD officers will be assigned in July.
“Our police force deserves body worn cameras. Our community deserves body worn cameras. And after years of waiting, I am committing that this summer we will have body worn cameras.”
Last Wednesday night an officer said he fatally wounded Dreasjon Reed after the fleeing man shot at him when he was tased by a stun gun.
Minutes before Reed had led officers on a high speed chase that he streamed live on Facebook.
Eight hours later, Mchale Rose, 19, was killed in what IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said was an attempted ambush of four officers.
A social media post by a relative of Rose indicated the teen was seeking revenge for Reed’s killing.
That post has been deleted.
Reed’s killing has resulted in protests that blocked traffic both outside the City County Building and along Michigan Road north of 62nd Street where the chase ended.
“Members of our council have been at the protests offering their support and a listening ear,” said City County Council President Vop Osili, “some of them behind the scenes pushing for answers, but all are profoundly concerned about these events and their impact on this community, particularly the black community.”
Hogsett also announced a new Use of Force Review Board will investigate incidents when officers resort to firearms, batons, stun guns, pepper spray or physical response to make arrests or quell disturbances.
“The Review Board will include appointed civilian representatives as part of its operation,” said the mayor.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor is charged with naming that board, facilitating its training and assigning it cases for investigation.
The board will include an IMPD captain, a peer officer, three members of IMPD’s Training Academy and three members of the community.
“The civilians that will be participating will be by the mayor’s recommendation and by President Osili’s recommendation and then by the members of this department,” said Taylor. “There will be a prerequisite so they’ll have to go through something like the equivalent of the Civilian Police Academy along that line so they’ll be trained up to understand what the officers go through and the kind of things that they’re dealing with so they’re better informed when making those decisions.”
Taylor said the Board will determine whether the responding officer reacted appropriately according to training and IMPD General Orders and then, if necessary, make disciplinary recommendations to the chief.
“I had spoken to a number of groups who said that they really felt that they needed the ability to vote and not just observe,” said Taylor, “and we took those things into account and we moved it up to three civilians and they will have the ability to vote just as the rest.”
Taylor said he has not decided if the new Board, which replaces IMPD’s Firearms Review Board, will examine the Reed and Rose fatal shootings.
After the briefing with the mayor, Chief Taylor posted a Facebook message to IMPD officers confirming that the department was aware of threats issued against officers and their families in person and in social media following the Reed shooting.
“What I’ve seen on social media with people willing to make these overt threats and just the things I hear them saying to the officers in passing whether you go up to 62nd and Michigan or somewhere else, those are people who really aren’t concerned with coming to a good conclusion to this,” said Taylor in an exclusive interview with CBS4 News. “These are not people I think are willing to sit down discuss their concerns. They would rather go out and make these threats.
“We certainly don’t want to get into arguments or physical altercations with anybody, but if you’re gonna go to an officer’s house and make those kind of threats on their family or something like that, we’re not just gonna stand by and let that happen. There’ll be consequences to that.”
Taylor said IMPD’s Criminal Intelligence detectives as well as federal agents are monitoring the threats and officers and dispatchers are being guarded in responding to suspicious calls for assistance.
“We always do our best to train our officers to be cautious in any situation but, admittedly, with tensions being as they are, there’s a little bit different take on it, a different look at it.
“My question would be: what are you really looking for? We don’t go targeting people, even though people might think that. We don’t target people.
“Please, let’s work through this with our words and not our fists or anything else like that. Let’s be cautious and be willing to sit down and really discuss what the issues are and what are the concerns of the community, how can we help. I’m always willing to listen. I just don’t want things to get sideways and lead towards things.”