INDIANAPOLIS – So far in 2023, there have been 14 IMPD officer-involved shootings and 10 of those have happened since Aug. 1.
Any time an officer uses deadly force, IMPD’s civilian-majority use of force review board conducts a mandatory hearing.
The board determines if the officer involved was in line with IMPD’s 12-page “use of force policy.”
“The hearings that they are participating in can be quite lengthy, they are very very detailed,” said Catherine Cummings, IMPD’s deputy chief of Training, Policy and Oversight Division. “They go through training with us, they learn our policies, they are continuously given updated training if we change something, if we update something. They are learning what it is that we’re doing day in and day out.
Deputy Chief Cummings says the board is made up of nine members, with four of those hailing from IMPD’s ranks.
Only one of those four, the chairperson, IMPD Capt. Brady Ball, is permanent.
One member is recommended by the FOP, and the other two can be rotated in and out depending on the case.
“We look at the specifics of the hearing, and then that’s how we determine if we have the appropriate people,” said Deputy Chief Cummings.
The other five members are Indianapolis citizens.
Of the five, two are appointed by IMPD’s Chief of Police, and three are appointed by the Indianapolis City-County Council.
For safety reasons, IMPD did not reveal the names of the other members.
Deputy Chief Cummings says the board hearings are extensive, often lasting all day.
Similar to a court hearing, the board has access to all evidence, including body cam video, witnesses, experts, and officers involved during the incident.
“We provide the materials to the members of the board prior to the hearing so that they can review those materials. Essentially, they have homework before they come in for one of the reviews,” said Deputy Chief Cummings. “I think it’s important too because they get that insight of hearing from the officers, hearing from the experts, things that have to be considered oftentimes in a split-second decision and how much information our officers are balancing and considering at that moment in time.”
Deputy Chief Cummings says since the board started in 2021, out of the 16 cases that have been heard, only one was found to be outside of IMPD’s use of force policy.
Once the hearing on the officer-involved shooting is finished, the board sends their recommendation to IMPD Chief Randal Taylor on whether the shooting was in or out of line with IMPD’s use of force policy.
Taylor makes the final decision of what to do.
Deputy Chief Cummings says the board is an invaluable tool for the department when it comes to keeping the city of Indianapolis safe.
“I think it’s important for us as a police department to remember that our community members may have a different perspective than we do. But likewise, I think it’s important for members of the community to also see what it is that we are doing on a day-to-day basis. They get an insight to the department into training that not everyone gets to see when you are a citizen in the community, ” said Cummings. “It gives us that opportunity to have a conversation with them, have real frank one-on-one conversations in a closed room, in a closed door, where everyone can have conversations with one another, and it gives us great insight into what they expect of us as a police department.”
Deputy Chief Cummings says it could take anywhere from a few months to more than a year for a case to be heard by the review board.
During that time, IMPD officers involved are placed on paid administrative leave for 30 days, then moved to paid administrative duty while the case plays out.
Makeup of the IMPD civilian-majority use of force review board
1. IMPD – Capt. Brady Ball, chairperson (permanent)
2. IMPD – Recommended by FOP
3. IMPD – (Can be rotated)
4. IMPD – (can be rotated)
5. Civilian – Appointed by IMPD chief of police
6. Civilian – Appointed by IMPD chief of police
7. Civilian – Appointed by City-County Council
8. Civilian – Appointed by City-County Council
9. Civilian – Appointed by City-County Council