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Monday, May 17, 2021

It’s time for Mayor Ballard to answer our concerns

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Mayor Greg Ballard is skating on thin ice. And thin ice for a mayor who many believe was elected by happenstance isn’t a good place to be.

Nonetheless, Ballard is on the ice and it is a’ cracking – fast. Something has to be done.

One of the main responsibilities of the mayor is to oversee the police department and make sure it operates in an effective and efficient manner. As a matter of fact, the very topic is one that the then mayoral candidate often talked about while on the campaign trail in 2007 (that and all the property tax hoopla that wasn’t even the responsibility of the mayor). Time has now shown us that much of Ballard’s talk was simply that … talk. He has yet to walk the walk to the standards of most in this community.

In a recent opinion piece, Ballard wrote that public safety “officials must be held to the highest ethical and performance standards.” I consider Ballard to be among the “officials,” so I have some questions for the mayor:

n Is it ethical that there are no African-Americans in top leadership positions within IMPD?

n Is it ethical that there are no African-Americans in top leadership positions within the fire department?

n What is being done to make the city’s public safety agencies more reflective of the community they serve?

n Is keeping an officer who was driving (and working) under the influence of alcohol employed ethical?

n Does an intoxicated officer who kills an innocent motorist yet keeps his job speak to the performance standards of IMPD?

Is it OK for police to beat people (youth or adults)?

n Are cover-ups within the police department ethical?

n What is being done to ensure that crooked cops get off the streets and behind bars?

n Why were you silent during the Brandon Johnson controversy that involved IMPD officers allegedly beating a young Black boy, leaving the public safety director to take the heat, while you were vocal in reference to the Black-on-Black shootings that occurred during Summer Celebration?

In spite of my barrage of questions, I do want the mayor to succeed. Regardless of one’s political affiliations, we should all want our sitting elected officials to do well because that means our city, state and country will do well. We can all benefit from effective leadership.

But according to some in the community, Ballard has a way to go before we can say he’s done an effective job. As a soundboard to the community, the Recorder often receives e-mails and phone calls from people who simply want their voices heard. They want to express their views – the positive ones, the negative ones, and even the perspectives that would leave the most intelligent person scratching his head wondering what the heck he just heard.

The feedback that this publication has received regarding Mayor Ballard has not been positive. When we receive negative comments, I encourage staffers to ask the person to share some possible solutions … at least then there isn’t just complaining, but also a level of reasoning. Here are some of the things that the community feels would make Ballard more effective:

n Be just as sensitive to the Black community as you are to the white community (in reference to Ballard sending the family of slain motorcyclist Eric Wells an apology letter, but not the family of Brandon Johnson).

n Hire more Blacks and other minorities to top decision-making positions.

n Get educated on what’s going on in the community and stop giving evasive responses.

n Hold officers accountable to the same standards you would hold a private citizen.

n Hit the streets and ask the community for its perspective.

n Speak to officers/fire fighters directly to learn what they think can improve their agencies.

n Keep your ears to the ground regarding internal corruption.

n Don’t turn a blind eye to the issues of the city.

You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at Shannonw@indyrecorder.com.

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