A controversial bill that would give the governor and a state board oversight of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will be heard Feb. 16 by the Corrections and Criminal Law Committee. If it passes through committee, it will be heard on the Senate floor.
Senate Bill 168, originally authored by Republican Sen. Jack Sandlin, is now co-authored by nine Senate Republicans. SB 168 would create a five-member state board of police commissioners consisting of four governor-appointed members and the mayor of Indianapolis. If passed, the board would have the authority to adopt, amend and enforce ordinances and rules related to the administration of the department, modify and approve the department’s budget, as well as the authority to appoint a chief of police.
Sandlin, who represents District 36, could not be reached for comment.
Rep. Robin Shackleford, who chairs the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus (IBLC), said she and the IBLC are against the legislation.
“Of course, we are opposed to that approach and are hoping it does not get a hearing or move out of committee,” Shackleford said. “My hope is that these legislators who truly want to help decrease homicides in Indianapolis recognize that the answer should not be increased government oversight. We should be focusing on how the state can help locals and not take away their power.”
Indy10 Black Lives Matter representatives have been watching this legislative session carefully, and spokesperson Jessica Louise said the group opposes the bill.
“We’re not interested in having state government be a part of this,” Louise said. “It’s a little concerning that state government is concerning itself with a single city. … It’s obvious that they’re wanting to do this in regard to civilian majority boards that popped up over the last few months.”
Louise believes this five-person board is a reflection of “government officials revealing themselves to be scared of their constituents.”
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.