Council proposal would provide civilian oversight to IMPD rules

Politics

INDIANAPOLIS — A proposal introduced before the City-County Council has the potential to drastically change the way the rules are written for IMPD officers.

Sponsors think it may be unique in the country and establish Indianapolis as a trend setter in the national police reform movement.

Proposal 237 calls for the establishment of a General Orders Board of four civilians appointed by the mayor and City-County Council and three representatives named by IMPD and its officers.

The board would have the responsibility to write IMPD’s General Orders, the rules that govern everything from an officer’s shine on his or her shoes and deportment in uniform to operation of a department vehicle or a decision whether or not to pull a trigger in a lethal weapon confrontation.

Right now, those General Orders are written by a three-member panel made up of appointments by the chief of police and the Fraternal Order of Police.

Democrat City-County Councilors Keith Potts and Crista Carlino say they have 15 co-sponsors on board.

“This idea of the collaboration from this policy making body, there are a lot of advisory boards that include a civilian-centered make up, and we’re making sure that civilians are having a voice in this conversation as well,” said Potts.We’re not going to make the jobs of our police officers harder. If anything, of course, we want to make them easier, so we worked with our law enforcement partners as well just to make sure that we weren’t adding any additional layers of bureaucracy or red tape so that they can continue to keep our community safe while our community has more of a voice in the policies.”

“The purpose is to make sure there are voices of the public at the table and that those voices are not just strictly those of law enforcement but also your run-of-the-mill, everyday person,” said Carlino. “We’ve come to the table not only with the FOP but the IMPD chief as well, and their voices have been heard in the draft of this legislation.”

FOP Lodge 86 President Rick Snyder issued the following statement:

We always welcome civilian engagement in providing community perspectives when formulating policies for community policing efforts. This would be an excellent opportunity to create a Civilian Advisory Board for IMPD General Orders.

However, it is concerning that some individual Councillors want to strip the legal authority of the Chief of Police to establish policy for the IMPD.

This is a fundamental responsibility for the Executive branch of local government which carries out the responsibilities of policing for our city and instead blurs the lines of accountability for such decisions.

Such a proposal leaves the policies of the police department up to a politically appointed group thereby allowing elected officials to bypass their responsibilities for the safety of our community.

Furthermore, it is disheartening to see this proposal at such a critical time for our city which gives the appearance that some City-County councilors have lost faith in the current Chief of Police to effectively oversee policy and manage the police department.

We look forward to see if the Mayor holds the same perspective on his appointed Chief of Police.

Snyder

Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office has not responded to a request for a comment.

The four community members of the board would undergo training at IMPD’s Citizen’s Police Academy as well as conduct ride-alongs with officers during the first three months after appointment.

“We are not here to protest the police. Proposition 237 is not an indictment of the police but rather an opportunity for the police to include those who they say they hear and want to protect and serve,” said Rev. Dr. Clyde Posley, of Faith in Indiana.

The proposal will be forward to the council’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee for consideration.

Experts consulted by CBS4 indicate that Proposal 237 may be unique and untried in other cities and police departments across America and that a civilian-dominated board has the potential to make policy decisions that would be contrary to established law, potentially leaving officers in the position of following legal precedent and state statute while jeopardizing their jobs for not adhering to local policies.

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