IMPD to be measured on national best practices

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When two young IMPD officers fatally wounded Aaron Bailey…unarmed and, they say, uncooperative…on a darkened northwest corner after crashing his car last June, the killing set in motion a lawsuit that claimed, among other things, “The City of Indianapolis failed to…have proper use of force policies in place; properly supervise and train its officers; implement proper implicit bias training (and) did not provide body cameras to its officers….”

The lawsuit by Bailey’s estate was filed at the same time IMPD was updating its policies and procedures, scheduling new training, weighing the purchase of body cameras, debating its pursuit rules and determining its adherence to national best practices and how to acquire accreditation for such.

For the next two days, a pair of assessors from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement, CALEA, will be in Indianapolis measuring IMPD versus the standards practiced by the best police departments in America.

“What they’re going to be doing is inspecting different areas of the department. They’ll be looking at the property room, they’ll be looking at the communications area, they’ll be doing ride-alongs with police officers, they’ll be going to roll call sites, ”said Sgt. Brian McEwen, IMPD’s Performance Management Coordinator, “our uses of force, our annual analyses reports, different standards for patrol, different standards for detectives, our holding cells for those being interviewed by detectives, a whole array of almost 200 standards that have specifically to do with law enforcement.”

McEwen said the on-site visit by the CALEA assessors has been nearly three years in the making as IMPD has achieved or surpassed many standards on its way to likely accreditation next spring.

“I would have to say already 85-90% of our policies were already in compliance when we started.”

IMPD’s four-year contract with CALEA, at $6000 annually, includes yearly reviews of department operations and policies and updates based on best practices, findings or court or Department of Justice consent decree directives.

“I think this really opens up a lot of public confidence with the department and transparency with the department to show that we are being very open with our policies and that we are doing what we say we are doing,” said McEwen.  “I think that opens up a lot of transparency for the chief of police and the mayor to say that we have gone through this, this is a voluntary thing, so we don’t have to do this, this is a voluntary thing and that departments go through this in order to become accredited.”

CALEA accreditation also provides the department with a legal defense when sued by plaintiffs claiming IMPD’s standards don’t match national best practices.

“If somebody wants to attack us saying that’s a pattern of practice or however we’re doing it, ‘Your policy was wrong,’ for us to have that ability of saying, ‘Well, maybe not. We’re a nationally accredited agency. If we’re wrong with this policy, then this is a national best practice that over a thousand law enforcement agencies in America are using right now as a CALEA certified agency.’ So I think that does reduce our liability and also increases our risk management,” said McEwen.

Officers and the public will be able to tell the CALEA assessors what they think of the department’s efforts to be accredited.

Monday from 1-3 p.m. the assessors will take phone call testimony at (317) 327-1358.

Monday night, beginning at six o’clock, the assessors will be available in person in Room 107 of the City County Building for public comment.