INDIANAPOLIS — The Black Church Coalition of Faith Indiana (BCC) is asking Indianapolis police to be more transparent when it comes to releasing information on officer-involved shootings. 

“The police should be held accountable for their actions also,” said local Pastor Peris Lester with BCC.

The latest officer-involved shooting happened Thursday when a man was shot and killed by an officer with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department during a traffic stop on the city’s near northeast side.

“Our concern is that we feel like IMPD is not fully disclosing all of the details and we think transparency is key,” said Pastor Lester. “We understand that police work is hard work, it’s for professionals but at the same time we believe transparency keeps everybody on a level playing field.”

The BCC is made up of 125 different churches throughout the state of Indiana. The group has developed a list of things they are asking the Indy police force to do.

The group is asking IMPD to:

  • Release raw body camera video within at least a week of the incident
  • Bring in a trusted third party for external investigations
  • Suspend a percentage of the involved officers’ pay
  • Hire a public safety officer to oversee the department

Pastor Lester said that these requests are mainly about transparency and the facts.

“I’m a firm believer in our community. Once we’re armed with the facts, we know how to deal with it,” he said. “But whenever there is doubt, when there is suspicion, people will always be wondering which then creates more animosity in the community.”

The pastor also said that this is not a matter of being unsupportive of IMPD.

“We do support our police,” he said. “We do, and we want the police to be supported. But, at the same time, we have to support our community. Where it’s not either/or, but it’s both/and.”

This week, FOX59/CBS4 took the BCC’s list of concerns and requests to IMPD leadership. 

IMPD sent a statement pointing out that the department does have new oversight boards, primarily made up of civilians. The department added that IMPD releases body camera video even when it doesn’t show officers in a positive light.

A copy of the full statement provided by IMPD on Friday can be read below.

Pastor Lester said that the BCC hopes to work together with IMPD in the future.

“This is a golden opportunity for us to turn the page and for us to get started to make a new tradition,” he said. “[For us] to say ‘you know what, let’s turn the page on that and let’s become better and bigger to make our city better’.”

Statement from IMPD:

The IMPD remains fully committed to the transparency and fairness, for our community and our officers. Over the past few years, the department has enacted new policies, 21st century policing training and new oversight boards, such as the Use of Force Review Board and General Orders Boards, which are both made up of a majority civilians.

Additionally, in 2019, IMPD began issuing body-worn cameras to officers.  Body-worn cameras are designed to increase transparency, ensure accountability, and enhance public trust. This has been demonstrated through the release of body-worn camera footage even when it does not represent IMPD officers in a positive way.

For critical incident videos, the IMPD aims to strike a balance between preserving the integrity of the investigation and maintaining transparency with the community. Critical incident videos include information to give more comprehensive understanding regarding the details of a given incident.  

This includes relevant body camera footage, information regarding the nature of the call, 911 call audio (if applicable), other videos beyond the body camera video (if available), the steps in the investigative process, and the status of the investigation. The process for creating the videos has been guided by a group made up of a diverse group of community stakeholders.

IMPD welcomes continued discussions with community stakeholders on how to more effectively work together towards trust, safety, and security for everyone.

IMPD on Aug. 4, 2023