INDIANAPOLIS– A police reform bill is moving forward at the Indiana Statehouse. It was approved unanimously through a House committee, 11-0 on Tuesday.
The legislation deals with practices like chokeholds, body cameras and de-escalation training.
Lawmakers started writing this justice reform bill back in May. They say law enforcement was involved in the process from the start.
Several agencies came to testify in favor of HB 1006 Tuesday including the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, Indiana Sheriff’s Association, Indiana State Fraternal Order of Police and Indiana State Police.
“We worked for months to get this bill to where it is,” said Lt. Brad Hoffeditz, Legislative Director with the Indiana State Police.
Many law enforcement agencies in Indiana said they already do a lot of the things listed in this bill. ISP said this bill standardizes everything state police officers are already required to do but emphasized areas where the legislation goes further.
“The employment provisions, they are a substantial step,” said Hoffeditz.
He said ISP is excited this legislation would require departments to share an officer’s complete employment record with other departments. Before, they wouldn’t know why a potential bad actor left an agency even if they asked the employer.
“’Yeah, we employed them’ and that’s it. So, it’s very difficult to make a decision that we need to make on an employment action when that is the information we have at hand,” explained Hoffeditz.
The bill also mandates the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy decertify police officers who commit misconduct.
“It’ll be a heavy lift,” said Tim Horty, the Executive Director at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. But I look you all in the eye and tell you that we will find a way to make that work and work with our law enforcement partners as well as our community partners.”
The bill enforces de-escalation training throughout the state, punishes officers if they intentionally don’t turn on their body camera with a Class A Misdemeanor and bans chokeholds unless needed in rare circumstances.
“The real issue of chokehold is a life and death situation and deadly force situation that’s why we put it in there, all others are not meant to be used as deadly force,” said the bill’s author, Republican Rep. Greg Steuerwald.
Though all members of the committee voted yes, State Rep. Matt Pierce believes this issue will need to be addressed by lawmakers again in the future.
“Because really the hardest issue, and who knows if you can really get it done in statute or not, is trying to reestablish the trust between the communities,” said Pierce.
The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus voiced support for this bill and said other stakeholders such as the Black Expo and NAACP are also in favor of it.
This bill now moves to the House floor for consideration.