Tuesday, June 23, 2015

IMPD, We Need To Have a Talk

Last month, the latest officer from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was arrested with an allegation of drunk driving. At least seven other IMPD officers have been arrested for similar charges since 2013. Other recent headlines show that an IMPD officer is on administrative leave due to accusations of spousal abuse. And there's the strange case of an IMPD officer found dead in a home, the same home that another man died in after an ingestion of chloroform.

IMPD, we need to have a talk.

When I was writing this blog on a more regular basis, I had several people within IMPD, officers and others, who would come to me as sources. When I ran for council in 2011, I was the only non-major party candidate endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 86. I've also had Rick Snyder from the FOP on the former podcast Civil Discourse Now. I'm not listing these things to brag, but to show that this is coming from someone who respects law enforcement and is sympathetic to how difficult the job can be, especially with the current occupants of the 25th floor.

But I'm finding it more and more difficult to defend IMPD in cases like these.

In her weekly column in the Indianapolis Recorder, Shannon Williams recounted an experience she had  when she reported an officer's behavior to the Citizen Police Complaint Board. Williams, the President of the Recorder Media Group, had called dispatch to file a report because her dog was struck in a hit and run. She was able to file a report, and she had no problems filing the complaint with the board, but the official report on the officer uncovered the officer's side of the incident.

Williams claims that:

"...aspects of the report were not only inaccurate, but some “findings” were actual lies. My words were misconstrued completely and a false stage was set in an attempt to dispute my complaint or substantiate the inappropriate behavior of the officer."

Among the specific claims that Williams found most ludicrous was that she was a victim of domestic violence, the officer claiming she never wanted a report filed, and that she lacked credibility. She also referred to the driver who hit her dog as "a gentleman", which the officer found inconsistent.

Williams' overall point was that even though this was a minor transgression, she was shocked at the length IMPD went to discredit her for an officer that she alleged to be rude and incompetent. If this is what they do when an officer is rude to a citizen, to what extent are they going to protect someone who does something beyond rude?

The last several years, rank and file officers and top brass have tried to promote a message that this is a new IMPD. Unfortunately, I can't say much has changed. A lot needs to be addressed from the top on down. I don't think the 25th floor or the top brass is going to step up to the challenge, so I hope the rank and file will help themselves out. It is going to be difficult, but it has to be done.

And it wouldn't hurt if the mayoral candidates weighed in on this as well.

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