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Monday, April 22, 2024

Another week; another police department shocker

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With all their troubles, last week the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department did something I think no major police department has done – placed an officer involved in a notorious police brutality case into a major command position.

IMPD made Scott Haslar East District Commander. Haslar was the officer involved in the Leonard Barnett case, a Black man shot on July 9, 1990 while fleeing, in one of the most egregious police brutality cases in Indianapolis.

Barnett was fleeing after robbing a restaurant when his car wrecked at 10th and College. As Barnett exited the car, Haslar, thinking Barnett was fleeing and armed, shot Barnett multiple times. Barnett was unarmed and had a severely broken foot.

Haslar endured federal and state trials that resulted in hung juries or verdicts of not guilty of brutality. He moved up the ranks of IMPD, becoming a top leader in the East District.

IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski told me on WTLC-AM (1310’s) “Afternoons with Amos” last Thursday that he did know there would be community concern. But Ciesielski added, “That was 20 years ago. People have to remember that he (Haslar) was exonerated. He has had a fabulous career with IMPD. I consider him one of the most tactically sound officers on the department. And for the last eight months, he’s been working with the community on crime reduction strategies.”

Now, I’m a big believer in forgiveness and redemption. Perhaps Haslar has changed. However, no one in our community really knows him or what he’s done in the 20 years since Leonard Barnett.

But, the Haslar promotion reveals a major IMPD weakness. Our police may understand crooks, murderers and miscreants, but they fail to understand perceptions and feelings of the community; especially the Black community.

Can you imagine NYPD appointing an officer involved in the Amadou Diallo case to a top job; or LAPD making one of the Rodney King beating cops the chief?

Somebody within IMPD should’ve known that placing an officer involved in a major police brutality controversy into a top command position would raise a stink.

They didn’t because IMPD, unlike other major big city police departments, doesn’t have a community relations division. There’s no one inside IMPD who understands city and neighborhood opinion leaders, influencers, movers and shakers. Worse, IMPD is totally clueless about how our African-American community operates, from ministers, to politicians, to civic leaders, even media.

And it doesn’t help that with just 10 African-Americans eligible for top command positions, there are very few Blacks who can go to the chief and public safety director to say “this is a bad idea” or “maybe you need to consult some folks about this.”

IMPD’s image in our African-American community was already in the basement. With the Haslar appointment, that image is on par with British Petroleum.

And the media continues to pound IMPD. There was the Sunday Star expose of the 20 IMPD officers in trouble since Mayor Greg Ballard has controlled the department.

Worse, WXIN/Fox 59 ace reporter Russ McQuaid reported that Chief Ciesielski and Public Safety Director Frank Straub were meeting to try and fix Straub’s image during the crucial minutes and hours after Officer David Bisard’s drunk driving crash.

McQuaid’s report said the chief ordered top cops to attend a meeting just 100 minutes after the crash to help fix Straub’s image. And those same top commanders were to be present at a press conference two hours later.

I’m sorry, an accident where a cop killed someone should be more important to Ciesielski and Straub than a meeting to correct one’s image!

What I’m hearing

in the streets

It’s the biggest boneheaded deal since Judas took 30 pieces of silver. This time it’s another 30 – 30 million – that the Ballard administration is taking so a controversial corporation can control Indianapolis’ parking meters and own parking lot revenues for the next 50 years.

The corporation is Affiliated Computer Services, or ACS. They’re described as the world’s largest diversified business process outsourcing firm. ACS has been involved in the failed privatization of Indiana’s welfare and food stamp agency. ACS also has been involved in botched services with Indiana’s unemployment offices and Marion County’s child support office. ACS hasn’t just failed here; they’ve delivered less than impressive results and savings to taxpayers in other states.

Mayor Ballard’s obsession with selling city assets for decades in return for short term fixes for streets and sidewalks gives ACS the opportunity to earn billions over a half century, while Indy gets chump change.

Under city ordinance, parking meter revenues can only be spent where there are meters – downtown and in Broad Ripple. There’s not enough streets and sidewalks in Broad Ripple to spend $30 million. And downtown? How much more cash can be plowed back into fixing up an already fixed up area?

None of the parking meter booty can be spent in other neighborhoods, unless parking meters are placed there. And this proposal does allow the city to do just that.

Now, the Ballard administration, which talks a great game about increasing minority-owned business opportunity, failed with this deal. Initial goals are 15 percent for minority-owned and 8 percent for women-owned businesses. A total of 23 percent (assuming they don’t count minority woman business owners twice).

But ACS is now a division of Xerox, a corporation headed by African-American Chairwoman and CEO Ursula Burns. Xerox brags that they did 32.5 percent of annual qualified purchases last year with minority business.

But in this 50-year agreement, which talks about “annual goals” for minority business utilization, no mechanism for increasing goals were set. And ACS and the city refused to use the current Xerox corporate totals as the benchmark to start.

For an administration that’s always bragging about its stellar record in minority business utilization, the ACS parking deal marks the second time Mayor Ballard has failed to be aggressive in minority business participation on major deals.

In the Citizens Gas/Water Co. deal, the goal is just 23 percent, when both Veolia Water and United Water’s current record far exceeds that.

And now the city and the mayor are accepting far less with ACS/Xerox.

See ‘ya next week.

You can e-mail comments to Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.

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