Elected officials commit to holding Citizens Police Complaint Board accountable following investigation

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — A FOX59 investigation found the Citizens Police Complaint Board, which is charged with handling formal complaints against IMPD officers, was not meeting their required hours. Now, the chairman of Indy’s City-County Council Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee acknowledges our reporting made him aware of this issue.

“You brought it to our attention today, we’re going to address it, we have erred in that manner and I think that’s how it should work,” Chairman Leroy Robinson said.”If you bring something to our attention and we don’t address it, again that’s an issue but you brought it to our attention. We’ve acknowledged it, we have to put better protocols in place going forward and I think that’s where the accountability is held at. We have to be held accountable for the things that we are aware of. If we’re not aware of it, it’s kind of tough. We need all folks involved in the agencies, the board members and regular citizens and the media to bring things to our attention and get us to respond to those things to hold us accountable.”

The Citizens Police Complaint Board is made up of seven appointed members from the City-County Council, four appointed members from the Mayor’s Office and one appointed member from the Fraternal Order of Police.

In July and August, the committee and the full city-county council voted on measures to make changes to the Citizens Police Complaint Board and Office. When some councilors asked about the training, Board President Duane Ingram assured them the board was capable of making decisions that impact the community and IMPD officers.

“It’s important that our residents have a voice and the voice that we were given is through the Citizens Police Complaint Board that’s made up of residents appointed by either the council or the mayor to take the concerns of the community and use the experience and the training that we are required by state statute, or by local code to go through,” Ingram said during an August 10 meeting. “To make sure that as we’re ruling and making decisions on these cases, we’re not just uninformed residents. We have to go through 20 hours of training on police matters and 16 hours of ride along time every year with IMPD officers. So we’re not just board members who are uninformed or unaware of how the rules work, we’re very much informed, very much engaged  and it is only our role say based on our experience and our understanding of the law that a complaint actually happened or did not happen.”

Records FOX59 received from the Citizens Police Complaint Office show only one member logged five hours in 2020. Robinson acknowledged COVID has impacted the opportunities board members have to engage in police ride alongs.

However, only two members accomplished their required hours in 2019 and no one accomplished them in 2018, based on the office’s records. Robinson said the council was not aware of this information.

“Absolutely not,” Robinson said. “Did not know that, wasn’t aware of that. We were under the impression during COVID which came up in one of the council meetings. Under COVID, the newer board members will be limited on their hours met because of lack of the ride alongs with officers, so we understood that.I think in that conversation we made some suggestions on how we can get that done, under COVID. So, we knew that this current year of board members will be difficult. But going back a year or two ago, there is no explanation for why those members were not able to meet those requirements.”

Some board members have reached out to both FOX59 and the city to adamantly insist they completed their hours in past years. Now, the city and Robinson said they are looking into this matter.

“We have to be sure that the report you have is accurate,” Robinson said. “There may be the case to where a board member has completed more hours than the report indicates. So before we start looking at actions or looking at suspending the board, or looking at cases that they have reviewed or any type of repercussions, we need to be sure that the report that you have displayed and showed where those folks are lacking hours is accurate. I don’t think we’ve done that. So I think the office of audit and performance is looking at, does the report match the hours that the board members say they have done? So I don’t think we’re there yet looking at repercussions until we decide that the information you received from the director over there is actual factual to what the board members did in their hours of completion. “

Beginning in January, the General Orders Board for IMPD begins operating with four appointed citizens and three police officers. This board is in charge of setting policy for IMPD.

Robinson said he is glad to know these apparent issues within the Citizens Police Complaint Board before the General Orders Board’s changes begin.

“What I want to say to that is I am very thankful that this process was played out with this board, months before we roll out in January the General Orders Board,” Robinson said. “We would not want this to occur with that board. So I think that what this allows us to do, it gives us a few months to fine tune this process to look at more transparency, look at more measurements to be sure that the board members, before they adjudicate, before they hear any case and look at any order, that they’ve been properly trained and done their background work to be sure they’re efficient and proficient in what the officers will be looking at coming to those general orders board meetings.”

Robinson said reviewing all proposals before the committee and the council is a tall order. He said his committee interacts with almost 20 agencies, from the prosecutor’s office to the sheriff’s office.

“There’s no way that this body can micromanage and know every single detail of that agency,” Robinson said. “We just, it’s impossible for us to know the operations, the ins and outs of every agency that comes before our committee.”

Robinson is calling on the help of the public to raise concerns to their elected officials so they can begin the process of investigating any alleged or confirmed issues.

“If you see red flags, if you see things that you’re concerned about, go to your elected official,” Robinson said. “Go to your councilor and have us dig into it. That’s how this came to our attention. This particular cause is because of you all, the four changes we made in July because of the board members came to us and said, Hey Councilor Robinson, there’s some concerns with the oversight board. So we made those changes that you saw back in July. So again, I think it’s an all hands on deck.”

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