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Friday, June 18, 2021

COMMENTARYLearning from our mistakes

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The following statement was sent to the Indianapolis Recorder Newspaper by Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub in response to concerns raised throughout 2010 about cases involving police misconduct. Straub shares what IMPD accomplished during his first year, and its future plans. He says IMPD is dedicated to a new focus for the new year.

In 2010, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) was challenged by incidents that raised serious concerns in the community.

While these incidents do not reflect the excellent police work performed each and every day by our officers, they have caused us to re-evaluate our strategies, policies, procedures and practices.

Recently, Mayor Greg Ballard announced the IMPD’s “Plan to Move Forward,” a re-engineering strategy to address issues identified in 2010, and to position the IMPD to become the best police department in the country. The process has begun with the following:

We will hire a police recruit class that reflects the diverse community we serve, attracts the best and the brightest candidates, and offers a promotional process that ensures that all members of the IMPD enjoy the same opportunities to rise through the department’s leadership ranks.

We established a bipartisan Public Safety Commission on Reform and a multi-denominational coalition of clergy to ensure public participation in every aspect of the IMPD re-engineering process.

IMPD’s new sergeant training was expanded from two days to two weeks. Persons representing Indianapolis’ diverse community have met with the sergeants and shared their experiences as persons of color, as new immigrants, as people with different religious beliefs and customs and what it means to be a lesbian, gay, bisexual, and/or transgender person.

Clergy and youth have spoken about the effect police actions have had on them, and offered suggestions to improve police-community-youth relations. The new sergeants toured and met with persons in the Marion County Jail, the Juvenile Detention Center, and a homeless shelter. And each completed a problem-solving community oriented project.

The in-service training received by all 1,648 police officers was revamped to focus on community diversity, the employee assistance program, use of force, and incident command. Both the new sergeant and the eight-hour in-service training curricula examined the legal realities of the Brandon Johnson incident, as well as other issues identified during professional standards investigations.

Recently, members of IMPD’s training staff and Rev. James Jackson traveled to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Academy. Additional field visits will include community members and/or clergy, and are planned for the Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York City police academies to identify best training practices.

The Professional Standards Division has been expanded to include all Public Safety Divisions and personnel. The division is committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism, integrity, respect and community service through in-service training, administrative and criminal investigations.

This month Public Safety will implement a department-wide zero tolerance alcohol policy. As demonstrated by our response to the Brandon Johnson incident, we will not accept the use of excessive force.

We have expanded the OK program from one high school to four. We are implementing the Youth-Police Initiative (YPI) in each of our districts to improve the relationship between our police officers and the young men and women they serve. Additionally, by partnering with McCoy and other organizations, we will use YPI to connect our youth to an array of community-based services to reduce violence and create more opportunities for success.

As the above progress indicates, IMPD is committed to building a culture of integrity and accountability. We are an organization committed to serving the Indianapolis community with transparency, to learning from our mistakes, and to being the best police department in the United States.

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