INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police announced an overwhelming vote of no confidence in Marion County Courts and in Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears.
On Aug. 4, members of the Indy FOP convened in order to hold a vote of confidence on the prosecutor and the courts in Marion County. The decision to hold the vote came in the wake of the death of Elwood Officer Noah Shahnavaz, who was shot and killed by a suspect who had a lengthy criminal history.
On Monday, the Indy FOP announced the results of the vote. The Indy FOP voted 98.9% no confidence in Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears. The Marion County court system earned little better with a 96.5% vote of no confidence.
Indy FOP President Rick Snyder said the vote represented law enforcement officers from “every single agency…. in Indianapolis and Marion County” including IMPD, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, state police troopers, Beech Grove, Speedway, Cumberland, airport, university police departments, Lawrence and more.
“We have had no question over the last three years,” Snyder said. “We have pointed to several instances, fractures within the system, failures to hold repeat violent offenders accountable and, at the same time, intentional steps taken by our Marion County Prosecutor to not uphold the law of the state of Indiana.”
Indy FOP President Rick Snyder remarked that he had never seen the justice system in Marion County be in such “shambles.” He stated that as of last year, the current number of criminal cases awaiting trial in Marion County was 37,500 cases.
“There is no dispute that there is a problem here,” Snyder said.
Snyder pointed out issues leading to officers’ votes of no confidence including “unexplained” reduced bonds for criminal suspects, computer glitches or spelling errors leading to wrongful releases, and lack of using red flag laws.
Snyder also pointed to frustration by officers about a lack of officers being able to access juvenile criminal records which — in the wake of Indiana’s permitless carry law — would grant officers the ability to see if young adult suspects have any gun crime history which would prohibit them from possessing a firearm.
“I have made this question clear, if your police officers do not have confidence in your court system, why should you? That is a terrible place for our community to be within,” Snyder said.
The Indy FOP did not release how many members took part in the vote nor what percentage of eligible officers cast their vote. Snyder stated he still felt the vote spoke for itself.
The Marion County Prosecutor’s Office declined to comment on the vote. Rebecca Geyer, president-elect for the Indianapolis Bar Association, issued the following statement in wake of the FOP vote:
“The Indianapolis Bar Association believes that a dialogue to address problems between our police force, the judiciary and the Marion County Prosecutor, rather than votes of no confidence, will go much further in addressing the needs of our community. A vote of no confidence isn’t a solution and doesn’t lead to progress in addressing the issues at hand. We are hopeful the parties can engage in meaningful discourse in the near future to analyze the root causes of the death of Officer Noah Shahnavaz and attacks on other public safety officers in our community.”Rebecca Geyer
The Indianapolis Bar Association had previously issued a rebuttal against similar comments made by Snyder aimed at the Marion County judiciary system, calling his remarks in reference to Officer Shahnavaz’s death as “inaccurate hyperbole.”
“The clear inference Mr. Snyder wishes the public to make from these statements is that – but for a ‘Marion County Judge’ – Officer Shahnavaz would be alive. Unfortunately, those statements are factually incorrect, and the resulting inferences are dangerous. Because Mr. Snyder’s claims regarding the Defendant’s sentence in Marion County are false, it is incumbent upon our organization to correct the record,” the IndyBar said in a statement.
Read IndyBar’s full previous response here.