INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Nov. 27, 2013)– The David Bisard Era began for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the City of Indianapolis at 11:21 a.m. on August 6, 2010, when the Metro officer, drunk more than twice the legal limit to drive, slammed into a trio of motorcyclists on East 56th Street.
Eric Wells was killed, the seeds of more than $4 million in legal settlements were sown, a mayor, police chief and public safety director fumbled for answers and a city lost faith in the men and women sworn to protect it.
The man named chief in the midst of the morass told Fox 59 News it’s time for IMPD and the citizens of the city to turn the page.
“It’s not fair to indict an entire police department over the actions of a few,” said Rick Hite who was named fulltime police chief nearly one year ago.
In the years since Bisard’s crash and Major Lincoln Plowman’s federal corruption conviction, two officers, David Moore and Rod Bradway, lost their lives in the line of duty.
One year after former Public Safety Director Frank Straub left Indianapolis in financial of organizational chaos, his successor, Troy Riggs, has balanced the budget, begun hiring new cops and rebuilt bridges to the community.
“In spite of all this happening three years ago, the agency kept moving forward,” said Hite. “We have people who have stepped up in promotions. People who have stepped up in the street to make sure they build relationships and partnerships in the community. The community has rallied around us at various time in the last two or three years.”
Hite cites tougher officer alcohol-related policies, begun under Straub and previous chief Paul Ciesielski, as well as new discipline, wellness and employee assistance programs.
In April 2012, when it was revealed that a vial of Bisard’s blood was stored on a warm property room shelf for five months, an off-the-books investigation by the Professional Standards Unit resulted in the surreptitious taping of the lead Bisard prosecutor and an examination of IMPD’s haphazard evidence preservation system.
“We’re revamping our whole process,” said Hite. “We’re having new refrigeration equipment involved now in the unit downstairs in the property room. We’re looking at best practices. We’re looking at bringing some new employees on board and develop some skill sets.
“We have a different command structure in our Professional Standards unit. It’s now back under the police department. For the last three years it was outside of IMPD. It was separate and apart from IMPD in that sense.”
Hite points to a dropping aggravated assault rate as well as lower rates of violent and overall crime as proof that IMPD is bouncing back from the poor morale and investigative confusion that resulted from the Bisard case.
The city’s criminal homicide rate is up 13% compared to a year ago.
“We had to deal with the pending issue of the Bisard case, which we have,” said Hite. “I think we have done a tremendous job of having to survive many challenges but at the same time we understand there is much to do.
“We do the work of 3,000 and we’re only 1,500 strong.”