INDIANAPOLIS — The City-County Council voted to pass Proposal 237 Monday, which is set to reshape the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s General Orders Board.
The General Orders Board sets department policy.
Per Proposal 237, the new General Orders Board will be made up of seven members. The proposal calls for the mayor and the Council to appoint four citizen members, while the police chief and officers appoint the other three.
The board will be charged with writing the rules that govern IMPD. A general order includes all department policies concerning procedures for investigations, arrests, use of force, searches and seizures.
Previously, a three-member General Orders Committee, made up of two appointees by the chief of police and one by the officers, writes and oversees 534 pages of rules.
“What Proposition 237 really embodies is what I believe is the will of our city is given the challenges of what our city has faced,” said Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett. “I support 237 because I think it’s a step in the right direction and it is keeping in my estimation what the people of the city of Indianapolis demand, more accountability in terms of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.”
Before its passing, 17 of 25 councilors signed on as co-sponsors of Proposal 237.
There are some regulations in order to be a part of the board. Members of the board, or their immediate family members can’t have lawsuits or complaint against the IMPD. If they file one, the member will be considered to have resigned and they will be replaced within 30 days. Also, no one with a felony conviction can serve on the board.
Opponents of prop 237 raise concerns about having a board with a civilian majority writing the rules and procedures for IMPD’s investigations, arrests, and use of force.
“From the very beginning, we have said as the FOP and law enforcement, we welcome [public perspective]. We think the perspective is needed. We just need to keep the ultimate accountability with the chief of police,” said FOP President Rick Snyder.
While others think this change is necessary.
“If there’s going to be accountability, if there’s going to be transparency, then the community has to be involved. And it can’t just be community that is in support of what this force is– what this entity is doing. It has to be community that is committed to accountability and transparency,” said Jessica Louise with Indy10 Black Lives Matter.
“We know that when the police and their supports are in charge of transparency and accountability, that that falls to the wayside and it’s not something that ever translates into tangible equity for us. We need representation on the board, we deserve representation on the board.”
Once a member proposes an order, the police chief has five business days to respond before the next meeting with an opinion or an alternative.
If the chief doesn’t support it, he’ll submit a written justification and the board can write a letter asking him to reconsider.
During Monday night’s discussion, Michael-Paul Hart brought up concerns that civilians don’t have enough experience to make such decisions.
Councillor Hart says the city has become violent in the past five years, with the homicide record recently being broken within the past week. He says these orders the group is in charge of, make up the officers’ everyday practices to keep civil order.
“Strong public safety is the foundation of our civilization. But here we are voting on a board that eliminates experience. And replaces it with hankering agendas. Jeopardizing officers’ trust and safety,” said Hart.
“Now I don’t wish to silence the voice of the citizen, and I do promote having citizens at the table to be part of the conversation, but not without an experienced majority.”
But those in favor of prop 237 said they believe this change is necessary for transparency and not an attempt to police the police.