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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Letter to the Editor

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Tragedy seems to abound within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).

The Baptist Ministers Alliance extends its prayers for and condolences to the family of 30-year-old Eric Wells, who died in the unfortunate traffic incident involving IMPD Officer David Bisard.

The Baptist Ministers Alliance also extends its prayers and support to the families of Mary Mills and Kurt Weekly, who were also injured in the horrific incident that occurred on Aug. 6.

The Baptist Ministers Alliance stands with the families of these recent victims of another IMPD officer’s poor judgment in requesting another police department to serve as lead agency into this traffic incident that fatally killed one and severely injured others.

The recent series of incidents involving IMPD officers brings to light once again the suspicion that is growing in epic proportions regarding IMPD. This community’s trust in IMPD to conduct a thorough and unbiased investigation of one of its own members is non-existent in the eyes of many in this city. IMPD’s standard line of “trust us” has become too much to ask.

While the city seeks to change the subject and wait for the next tragedy to steal the headline providing more cover for the ineptitude of city leadership, we demand that IMPD officers and street-level supervisors receive better training and supervision by the administration.

It is unrealistic to assert that not one police officer present during the events of Aug. 6, ever detected the odor of alcohol, blood shot eyes or the awkward clumsiness associated with alcohol intoxication while observing and communicating with Officer Bisard.

Police officers suggest that they are trained experts in detecting drunk drivers when they arrest other people on a daily basis, but their expertise and skill curiously disappeared while investigating one of their own officers. You can smell onions on a person’s breath, you can smell candy on a person’s breath and the public is asked to believe that not one person present at the scene smelled liquor.

What we smell is another attempt by IMPD to cover up the truth from the public.

For example, how is it that the attorney for the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) can fairly represent Officer Bisard in this criminal case while also serving as the union attorney for all of the IMPD officers who must serve as witnesses against Officer Bisard in the pending criminal trial? The FOP attorney must naturally attack the credibility of his own clients while representing Officer Bisard. Something about this nexus does not pass the smell test. Does the FOP get to cherry pick the officers it represents, because they certainly failed to represent Officer Candi Perry, who was found innocent of all criminal charges after going to great expense to hire her own attorney?

In light of these recent developments, the Baptist Ministers Alliance reasserts its demand that all the officers involved in the Brandon Johnson case should be fired. Moreover, as the Merit Board plans to address these matters in a few weeks, we also reassert our previous request that Joe Slash make a decision between his role on the Merit Board and the historic Urban League of Indianapolis. His presence in both positions remains a profound conflict of interest.

The Baptist Ministers Alliance also calls upon the Merit Board, in their review of these latest events, to open the doors to the public and allow the bright light of public interest into their deliberations. Secrecy breeds mistrust.

The mayor’s admission that “whatever occurred involves a failure of leadership” and moreover, his assertion that “other people perhaps were aware of the issues surrounding Officer Bisard but said and did nothing,” rings a bit strange.

How is it that the mayor expresses expectations in this fatal motor vehicle accident that officers and supervisors present should have spoken up, yet he failed to express similar expectations and logic in the Brandon Johnson excessive force case?

The Baptist Ministers Alliance still awaits a meeting with the mayor.

How can we promote Indianapolis across this country when the mayor refuses to meet with a group of Black Baptist preachers to talk about public safety? We have the capacity to debate without being disrespectful.

Stephen J. Clay


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