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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Black officers kept from promotion by another IMPD Merit Board outrage

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They are called Field Training Officers, FTO is the acronym, and they are the officers within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) responsible for training and orienting rookie officers after they leave the Police Training Academy.

The community’s image of the kindly, older veteran officer training the young, wet behind the ears rookie has been inculcated into our minds through TV crime dramas like “Adam 12,” “NYPD Blue” and the “Law and Order” series.

IMPD has some 154 FTOs. But, unlike what you might think, none are sergeants. FTOs in IMPD are ordinary rank and file patrol officers who get extra pay for training rookies – which makes sense.

Recently, the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), Black IMPD officers and the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard have been locked in a struggle over how to reward FTO officers in the promotion process.

Most reasonable people agree that an FTO should get some extra credit or points in the promotion process for fulfilling this training responsibility.

Just one small problem. IMPD’s FTO system is hopelessly biased against minority officers in general and African-American officers in particular.

Of the department’s current FTOs only five are African-American.

That’s right, the fingers of my right typing hand equals the number of IMPD FTOs. Look at it in another way, in a city/county that’s 28.4 percent Black, just 3.2 percent of the officers responsible for training and orienting police rookies are African-American.

IMPD’s FTO racial bias policies have been going on long before Ballard became mayor. But his attitude of giving an extremely low priority to hiring and promoting African-Americans in IMPD has made the racial disparities in the department’s FTO program resemble an FTO program in Birmingham in 1963 or Johannesburg in 1983.

Under pressure from Black police organizations, the NAACP and the courageous battling of Indianapolis Urban League President Joe Slash (who chaired a mayoral committee on improving diversity, training, hiring and promotion) Mayor Ballard, through his Police Chief Paul Ciesielski attempted a compromise with the FOP and Black officers.

The plan would’ve given fractionalized credit points, like tenths of whole points, in the promotion process for FTO officers seeking to become sergeants or lieutenants.

The city presented the compromise plan to the IMPD Merit Board.

After the outrageous decision of the Merit Board last June in the Brandon Johnson case, Mayor Ballard sacked most of the board and replaced them with new folks.

Now, a majority of this new Merit Board, over the heated objections of Slash and two other members, including another African-American, Rev. James Jackson, changed Chief Ciesielski and Mayor Ballard’s plan and made it worse.

Instead of giving fractionalized points, FTO officers would earn whole points towards promotion.

Because of the bigotry that keeps Blacks and other minorities out of the FTO program, the Merit Board’s warped decision continues to perpetuate the stacked deck against Black officers in IMPD.

Blacks can’t get into the FTO program, which gives those individual officers an extra leg up in the promotions. Because of that, Blacks fall farther behind on the promotion list. Meaning, Mayor Ballard will continue his record of having the fewest African-American police officers promoted during his mayoralty in decades.

I guess that abysmal record of diversity is why Ballard sincerely believes he’s “the most African-American friendly mayor in the history of Indianapolis.”

This outrageous decision has united African-American IMPD officers. Now Black officers despise Mayor Ballard’s handling of Public Safety as much as white officers despise it.

One thing Black and white IMPD officers agree with is that Mayor Ballard and his running partner Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub have to go.

Maybe then IMPD can create a fair FTO system and fair promotion system.

What I’m hearing in the streets

The stress of dealing with the state takeovers must be getting to IPS Superintendent Eugene White.

Last week he called me “a liar” on a radio show because I had the audacity to write three weeks ago that White’s plan creating combined middle and high schools “has not worked.” I think White’s more miffed that I blasted the IPS School Board for extending his contract and for wasting money suing the state.

But, what about my original conclusion that IPS’ blended middle and high schools haven’t worked? The plan’s idea was that moving middle school students into high schools would raise the former’s academic achievement.

Looking at this year’s ISTEP results for Black students in IPS’ middle schools, you be the judge.

In just two (Broad Ripple and Shortridge) of IPS’ seven blended middle/high schools do Black students exceed the statewide ISTEP average in English/language arts. And in math, only at Attucks do Black students exceed the statewide ISTEP average in math.

Of IPS’ three “pure” middle schools, only Harshman exceeds the statewide ISTEP scores for Blacks in English/language arts and math.

Of IPS’ 10 blended or pure middle schools, in only three do Blacks exceed the statewide ISTEP for Blacks in English/language arts and exceed the average in math in just two of them.

I think that’s failure in my book, Dr. White. Sorry if the truth upsets you and others.

If Marion County Republicans believed their mantra that government should run like a business, then early voting is a convenience. And business loves being convenient for consumers.

If Marion County Republicans believed their tradition of “public-private partnerships” they’d embrace the contribution by the United Auto Workers to pay the cost of early voting; sparing taxpayers.

But the goal of Marion County Republicans in resisting early voting is twofold: To suppress the vote margins next year for President Barack Obama and Democratic candidates for governor and senator. Another plan is suppressing Democratic voters this year to give Mayor Ballard a chance at re-election.

If Republicans thought early voting helped Ballard, they’d OK it in an instant. But they don’t because the convenience of early voting encourages Democratic and independent voters to vote.

Their opposition is political. And our so-called non-politician mayor followed the party line, showing Marion County’s 676,888 potential voters that deep down he’s just really a politician who’s into suppressing the vote.

Another reason he’s “the most African-American friendly mayor” in history?

See ‘ya next week.

You can email comments to Amos Brown at acbrown@aol.com.


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