Citizens Police Complaint Office works toward further transparency, accountability following city’s audit

Crimetracker

INDIANAPOLIS — A two-year audit of the Citizens Police Complaint Office and Board by the city’s Office of Audit and Performance (OAP) spelled out 13 ways auditors recommended the board could improve.

The overall goal of the office, auditors, city leaders and IMPD is to increase accountability, transparency and efficiency.

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett requested a review of the office back in 2018, looking specifically at the police oversight model. Along with the model, auditors also looked at transparency, community engagement and accountability.

They administered an online survey for the public, offered in six languages. OAP Director Hope Tribble said roughly 1,300 people responded. They also did interviews and phone surveys with people who have engaged with the CPCO.

OAP looked at different types of police complaint oversight models. They recommended a hybrid model, which has elements of a review board that reviews cases of misconduct, the auditor/monitor model, which writes policy recommendations to the department based on the misconduct trends the board sees, and an investigative model, which investigates cases independently of the police department.

After Proposal 197 passed adding a CPCO independent investigator, the city’s board model became a hybrid model. Tribble encourages the office to add mediation to the hybrid model as well.

“Would provide for faster resolution of lower level allegations, it would help to balance the case load in the complaint review process,” Tribble said. “It also can improve satisfaction with the outcomes of cases.”

IMPD Chief Deputy Kendale Adams agreed.

“To Director Tribble and her report, fascinating,” Adams said. “I think they speak to what we agree. Mediation is a buzzword I’ve been saying for the last couple years. I think it’s important.”

Tribble said OAP recommends a public-facing dashboard that will include the required training and ridealong hours achieved by appointed board members so the public will see their progress. The office also added a public transparency portal that includes all adjudicated complaints against IMPD officers.

“So the community has a resource to understand what’s happening within the oversight process,” Tribble explained. “It also allows the community to understand the full outcome of misconduct cases.”

Board members are required to have 20 hours of police procedure training and 16 hours of ride alongs with IMPD officers. Our investigation found that records show this had not been happening for years. Now, the board members and IMPD are partnering to offer four more training opportunities to finish the year.

“Because of barriers outside of our control, we may not be able to hit those requirements as in times past,” board president Duane Ingram said. “But we’re going to get through 2020, and we’re going to try to get back to normal here in 2021.”

OAP recommends adding standard operating procedures for the Citizens Police Complaint Board as well.

“Implementing a standard operating procedure for the complaint office,” Ingram said. “Because what we have found is where the ordinance does not speak, confusion and chaos can arise.”

OAP advises the CPCO to add an office administrator. They also recommend a community liaison.

“It leads to a better informed, educated and engaged community with regard to the oversight process,” Tribble said.

Additional recommendations include an annual audit and an adjustment to the qualifications and responsibilities of the executive director to fit the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement’s best practices.

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