Support growing for IMPD new use-of-force policy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Now that IMPD has rewritten its use-of-force policy, one longtime community leader is waiting to see if the new engagement rules will be followed.

“My biggest concern with the use-of-force policy is what happens when somebody violates the policy, what’s the process, what’s that look like?” asked Rev. David Greene of the Concerned Clergy.

“When we got a policy on paper, the right words are in place, but the question will be what happens when it looks like a chokehold or there was some deadly force and how does this overlap with the body camera policies, etc., what’s going to take place then?”

After the fatal police action shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed man who wrecked his car when fleeing from officers in late June of 2017, Mayor Joe Hogsett and IMPD promised a review of IMPD’s use-of-force policy that governs how officers can respond with force when dealing with the public.

Former IMPD Chief Bryan Roach attempted to fire the two young patrolmen involved in the Bailey shooting but he was overruled by the IMPD Merit Board which found the officers responded in accordance with their training.

Following the fatal shooting of Dreasjon Reed by an officer who said he shot back after the fleeing man fired on him first in early May, protesters took the streets and called for a change in IMPD policies.

The new use-of-force policies, due to go into effect August 3rd, explicitly prohibit actions IMPD does not currently teach or practice, such as the use of chokeholds or firing at moving vehicles, while spelling out in greater detail de-escalation techniques, less lethal force continuum options, consideration of the underlying crime or the subject’s mental health or substance abuse condition and the duty of an officer to intervene or report if a use-of-force violation is witnessed.

“It’s something that we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Hogsett. “Candidly, I made a commitment that we would update the use-of-force policy after the tragic death of Aaron Bailey two years ago. It’s long overdue. I think it’s more appropriate and addresses some of the community’s concerns about the appropriate use-of-force by our law enforcement professionals and I’m glad it’s formally adopted.”

“I’m very happy that the voices of our community have been heard. It has been a long request and even more so in these last weeks and just knowing that all of our law enforcement agencies are hearing the voices of our community and that is a good thing,” said City County Council President Vop Osili. “I think it just makes for a more inclusive city, folks know that. All of our agencies and all of our departments have ears and have heard and that’s probably the most important thing we can do right now.”

Rev. Greene said that while the use-of-force policy revision clarifies the rules for IMPD, it can make no similar demands on members of the public who may be combative or refuse to cooperate.

“I think it’s going to be challenging for officers in those particular situations. I think the goal of the use-of-force policy is to minimize an all-out fight with somebody, especially a community member who gets injured.

“Obviously community can’t do that, ‘I’m just gonna defy the police and not roll down the window, not communicate, etc.’ and drive off, we can’t allow that to take place.”

Rev. Greene said the key to community acceptance of the new policy will be the formation of the Use of Force Review Board which will include citizens serving alongside sworn officers to consider whether the actions taken by law enforcement fell within IMPD policies.

“The community has to have a voice and be at the table that’s just imperative,” said Greene. “We have some people who maybe are some retired African American police officers who could serve on that board who would be trusted by the community for the work they have done in the past and yet are familiar with protocols other than what the new ones, maybe you could catch them up on the new ones, and they could serve.”

IMPD is still in the process of creating that board.

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