When you hear the word compromise, you think of sacrifice, loss and war. While that may be the case in many compromises, House Bill 1006 authored by State Rep. Greg Steuerwald and co-authored by yours truly was collaborative and historic.
House Bill 1006 Law Enforcement Officers has definitively changed the Indiana criminal justice system forever. During the summer, the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus was on the forefront of justice reform. We participated in town halls, community discussions, demonstrations and advocacy calls. From there we listened to the issues that plagued our community and created an action plan to tackle them. On the list of solutions, our biggest feat to tackle was police reform.
In our pursuit of reforming our police departments, we knew that a true bipartisan effort was needed to accomplish this goal. Additionally, we knew we would have to find common ground among activist, law enforcement and judicial expectations. We approached the speaker of the House for a task force, but luckily, he assigned Rep. Steuerwald to work with us and together we pushed through comprehensive legislation that:
● Requires the Indiana law enforcement training board to establish mandatory training in de-escalation as part of the use-of-force curriculum and to be provided in pre-basic, mandatory in-service and executive training programs.
● Establishes procedure to allow the Indiana law enforcement board to decertify an officer who has committed misconduct.
● Defines “chokehold” and prohibits the use of a chokehold under certain circumstances:
❍ “Chokehold” means applying pressure to the throat or neck of another person in a manner intended to obstruct the airway of the other person.
❍ “Deadly force” includes a chokehold.
● Specifies that an officer who turns off their body camera with the intent to conceal a criminal act commits a Class A misdemeanor.
● Requires a law enforcement agency to request a potential hire’s employment record and certain other information from the previous employing agency.
● Appropriates $70 million from the state general fund to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) to make repairs and updates to their facility.
Gov. Eric Holcomb signed the legislation into law a few weeks ago, and we could not be more ecstatic of this monumental feat. HB 1006 was a phenomenal starting point; however, we still have more work to do, which will take our entire community. Our next steps include participating in another legislative work group over the summer to create an additional bipartisan justice reform bill and ensure our minority, women and veteran-owned businesses are a substantial part of the ILEA rehab. I have absolute faith in our community and in my colleagues that we will be able to achieve more accomplishments that move the needle forward on the necessary transformation needed to make our community safe for all.
State Rep. Robin Shackleford represents Indiana House District 98, is Indiana Black Legislative Caucus chair, POWER Women Caucus vice chair and Public Health Committee ranking minority member. Contact her at H98@iga.in.gov.