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INDIANAPOLIS––Drawing on lessons learned over the past couple years, IMPD is about to launch an internal council to examine diversity and inclusion issues within the department.

“We know that when there’s more diversity in the police department, you have greater trust and confidence in the police department by the citizens that it serves,” said Captain John Walton.

Indianapolis’ African American population is 28%.

In its one of its most recent recruit classes, IMPD graduated ten officers of color from a class of 35.

The current recruit class has 25 persons of color among 78 recruits.

“I think often times people just think, ‘Hire more diverse officers,’ but that’s just diversity. That’s not necessarily inclusion or equity,” said Marshawn Wooley of the African American Coalition of Indianapolis who has consulted with IMPD on its diversity and inclusion issues. “They’ve made great strides in diversity not only at the patrol level but also being more intentional at the middle management as well as top brass level.”

Walton said 28 officers from throughout the department will begin meeting to examine IMPD’s internal commitment to inclusion and diversity and whether those principles are reflected in training, mentoring and promotional processes and the community’s preferences at large.

“Communities and society have the right to decide the priorities of the agencies and what type of men and women you want serving in those agencies,” said Walton.

Wooley said that while some segments of the community made their opposition to IMPD clear during the civil unrest protests of last spring, those who have worked closely with the department recognize progress that has been made.

“I know that there has been a real emphasis on de-escalation and also thinking about implicit bias and their relationship with the community,” said Wooley. “There’s also been just a different mentality towards the community, trying to be more problem solving, so, for example, when there’s a raid, there’s engagement with social service agencies to backfill the devastation that comes with a raid and taking someone out of a community.”

Wooley also pointed to IMPD’s acceptance of civilian oversight on its General Orders and Use of Force boards as proof of the department’s commitment to listen to the community and respond to its concerns.

“When you think about the work that IMPD is doing, if you are close to IMPD, then you’re aware of things they are doing and so you see them at work,” he said. “I don’t know that they’re getting enough credit, but, at the same time they still have a lot of work to do.”