INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A year ago, Chase Edwards was a college graduate, a trained combat engineer in the Indiana National Guard and anxiously looking forward to beginning the 14th IMPD Recruit Class.
He also spent Thanksgiving with his family.
Thursday, Edwards is a newly minted probationary officer assigned to middle shift on Southeast District after completing 48 weeks of classwork and Field Training Officer patrols.
His reward for being one of 36 new IMPD officers is a beat up police car with 171,000 miles on the odometer.
It doesn’t always go into reverse with a hole in the driver’s seat and a passenger side window that doesn’t always go up.
It's the chance to work solo on Thanksgiving while everybody else’s family gathers around the table for turkey and maybe his mom will bring him leftovers for lunch.
Edwards thinks he’s lucky.
“I like obeying the laws and I think other people should,” said Edwards as he steered his gray Ford with chipped paint through quiet side streets. “So many people are out traveling and stuff, so many empty homes, that we have to watch out for and make sure that they’re not being burglarized.”
It wasn’t a burglary but a dispute between neighbors on what or may not have been a stolen wallet that may or may not have contained $2500 that brought Edwards and two other officers out to the 1200 block of Bacon Street right about dinnertime.
Edwards was lucky again as another officer took this run which ended an argument but didn’t yield a solution.
“When you’re walking up on the scene you need to size them up and as you walk up you need to see if they’re armed, see where their hands are, see what they’re doing, see if they’re angry, crazy, acting crazy,” said Edwards who finds himself stunned at the number of people who will resist or lie to officers. “They’ll mix up their birthdates, they’ll mix up how to spell their names, they won’t know their social security number, that’s the biggest thing. If you’re over 18 you should probably know your social security number.”
IMPD is expecting to lose 70 veteran officers to attrition this year.
Edwards’ class will make up about half of that total, at least in bodies if certainly not in experience.
The ex-tree trimmer was riding with his FTO this summer when the conversation inevitably turned to the fatal shooting of an unarmed fleeing motorist in late June by two officers with not much more experience on the streets than Edwards.
IMPD Chief Bryan Roach is trying to fire those officers.