IMPD will have body cams by this summer, implement ‘use of force’ review board

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INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett and the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department announced their plans to improve police accountability and transparency, particularly around the use of force.

They said they plan to do that first by equipping officers with body cameras and by creating a “use of force” review board.

This announcement comes less than a week after the deadly shooting of Dreasjon Reed. Reed was shot and killed by an IMPD officer after leading police on a high speed chase last week.

But Hogsett said this conversation was not new, and they have wanted to bring body cameras to the city for over a decade.

“After years of waiting, I am committing that this summer we will have body-worn cameras,” Hogsett said during the press conference.

Last year, IMPD conducted a second pilot program to guide implementation of body-worn cameras on the department.

It included a community-facing survey administered by IUPUI, a series of in-person community meetings, and a technology trial on the busiest shift on the largest IMPD districts.

Through the trial process, Hogsett said the ability for decentralized uploading of body worn camera footage as well as the availability of automated recording triggers, which turn the cameras on in certain situations, were identified as priority characteristics for the technology. 

Ultimately, they selected Utility as their preferred vendor.

Following the conclusion of the pilot, Hogsett and the City-County Council included $1.2 million in the 2020 City-County Budget to fund the rollout of a body-worn camera program.

Implementation of the program will begin this summer. Chief Taylor said it would be some time between July and September. Their goal is to outfit 100 officers with the technology per week.

They are still finalizing a body-worn camera policy that maximizes the benefits of the technology for both officers and the public. Taylor said a final policy will be made available to the public before rollout of the technology to officers begins.

Taylor also spoke about the new “use of force” review board, which will replace the current firearms review board.

The board will have authority to review uses of force by IMPD officers, whether it be a physical altercation, deployment of a taser, or use of a firearm. 

The board will be made up of merit-ranked officers as well as civilian members appointed by the Chief of Police, including one nominated by the mayor, one nominated by the president of the City-County Council, and one nominated by members of IMPD. 

Prior to appointment, civilian members will be required to complete training that covers use of force, IMPD general orders, applicable merit laws, and ride-alongs. Continuing education will also be required. Civilian appointees will be voting members and will have full authority to participate in hearings.

The board will not have the authority to recommend discipline, but will instead make an advisory finding which will be limited to determining whether the officer’s actions were within departmental policy. 

It will conduct a mandatory hearing for any use of deadly force against a person. 

Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police provided the following statement in response to Tuesday’s announcements:

“Today our collective organization learned from the public announcement of the Mayor of Indianapolis, the President of the City County Council and the Chief of IMPD of their decision to move forward with a complete implementation of a Body Worn Camera program for the IMPD. We are grateful for such action given that our collective FOP membership called for such an investment (475) days ago on January 23, 2019. It is disappointing that such an announcement takes place suddenly in the midst of 2 use of force incidents while they are still being examined. The timing and use of words such as “police reforms” inappropriately conflate recent events with decisions to now implement something our Officers and Residents have been awaiting for at least 2 years.

Today, via the media, our Officers also learned of the creation of a Use of Force review board inclusive of civilian participation on police tactics trained by the police department. While we look forward to receiving further specifics, we are not opposed to civilian review. In fact, civilian oversight exists already in multiple venues including the Civilian Police Merit Board which already oversees the actions of Officers, hiring, promotions, terminations, discipline, other personnel matters and policy practices of the agency.

Yet what is of equal importance with today’s announcements are the very real and documented threats of violence and actual violence that has been made toward law enforcement officers and their families. Our elected and appointed leaders have had multiple days to speak to this issue and they have chosen to remain silent. Their lack of condemnation of such activities provides tacit approval of enhanced dangers for their employees under their supervision and to whom they have federal, state and local responsibilities for their safety. The silence of our leaders regarding violence toward those required to enforce the laws of our society has sent a clear and convincing message to our police officers and their families.”

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor took to YouTube Tuesday to address threats being made to police officers:

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