Indianapolis police chief shares concern with proposed general orders board

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INDIANAPOLIS – After a committee meeting Tuesday night, Proposal 237 is now moving to the full city-county council for a vote on October 12. The proposal would create a civilian majority general orders board, which would have the authority to propose, modify and review policies of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).

A general order includes all department policies concerning procedures for investigations, arrests, use of force, searches and seizures. The proposal says general orders do not include policies that concern only internal standards, including directives related to uniform requirements and awards.

Proposal 237 amends the makeup of the current General Orders Committee. Right now the group consists of two members appointed by the chief and one member by the police union.

The proposal calls for the addition of four civilians, which would make it a seven-member board. Two would be appointed by the mayor and two members would be appointed by the president of the City-County Council.

Nine Democratic council members on the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee voted in favor of Proposal 237, and three Republicans voted against it. It will now head to the full council.

“The objective of this proposal is transparency and inclusivity,” said councillor Crista Carlino (D-District 6).

At least 18 councilors are co-sponsors of this proposal. Councillor Keith Potts (D-District 2) said this is not an attempt to police the police.

“Rather, we are opening up the process to be more transparent,” he said.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said the department needs civilian participation in its processes. He explained that is why the department is looking to place several civilians on a new use of force review board. Even though Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett offered his support for Proposal 237, the chief he appointed expressed concern with civilians making up a majority of the general orders board.

“My only concern is, have we moved too far to one side with this with the number of civilians?” said Chief Taylor on Tuesday night.

In a statement on Wednesday to FOX59, Chief Taylor said IMPD has listened to the community who have called for change in how his officers serve. The department is implementing a permanent body-worn camera program and established a revised use of force policy.

Chief Taylor said the department will continue to work with the city-county council and members of the community to improve accountability.

Within three months after the appointment to the general orders board, any member who is not a sworn officer of the department must go through training according to the proposal.

“In my mind, if all information is the same, most rationale people will end up at the same conclusion,” said Pastor David Greene.

Greene was involved in the creation of this proposal as a faith based leader and member of the African American Coalition of Indianapolis. He also supports a civilian majority on the board.

“We will not get there with an us versus them perception. We need each other,” he explained.

Yet the president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, Rick Snyder, sees this as some councilors wanting to strip the legal authority of the chief of police to establish policy for the IMPD.

He was also concerned when the committee said a criminal conviction would not disqualify someone from getting appointed to the general orders board. According to the proposal, civilian members and their immediate family may not be presently or formerly employed by IMPD or any law enforcement agency.

“This proposal is putting convicts over cops and their families,” Snyder said at the meeting on Tuesday.

Proposals passed by the council must be approved and signed by the mayor of Indianapolis. Mayor Hogsett said Proposal 237 would “help increase engagement, communication, and ultimately trust, between IMPD and the residents they serve.”

CBS4 requested an interview with Mayor Hogsett. A spokesperson for the city deferred to the authors of the proposal or cosponsors for additional comment because it is a proposal led by the council.

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