INDIANAPOLIS — The City of Indianapolis has a new plan for the group that enacts policies for the city’s police department.
In a near party line vote, City-County councilors approved Proposal 237, which creates a civilian majority on the General Orders Committee.
The new board will have the authority to propose, modify and enact policies of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. A General Order includes all department policies concerning procedures for investigations, arrests, Use of Force, searches and seizures. The proposal says General Orders do not include policies that concern only internal standards, such as directives related to uniform requirements and awards.
Right now, IMPD says personnel writes policy for the department, and that is under the direction of the chief of police. The current General Orders Committee approves policy. That group consists of two members appointed by the chief and one member by the police union.
Proposal 237 amends the makeup of the current General Orders Committee. The approved proposal adds four civilians, which would make it a seven-member board. Two civilian members would be appointed by the mayor, and two civilian members would be appointed by the president of the City-County Council.
The council approved the proposal almost along party lines with a 19-6 vote. Council member Jared Evans was the only Democrat who voted against it.
“That is how we are going to have a safer, better community because now both sides trust each other,” said Senior Pastor David Greene of Purpose of Life Ministries.
Pastor Greene was involved in the creation of Proposal 237. He said he originally brought the idea to Mayor Joe Hogsett during his first year in office.
“There are a number of us that believe the community should have a voice in how they are going to be policed as taxpayers, as concerned community members,” he said.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor has expressed concerns about Proposal 237. He said he supports civilian input, but he worries about civilians holding a majority on this policy making board.
Chief Taylor responded to some questions about Proposal 237 on Tuesday.
“I will have to work with in,” Taylor said. “I may not agree with all of it or how the makeup of that group is, but the council has spoken, and they represent the people.”
An amendment approved last night says the chief will provide an opinion on a proposed General Order and provide justification if he does not support a proposed order.
“It is just merely giving the police chief additional voices and things to be considered that need to be thought about up front,” Pastor Greene said.
One councilor moved to require an affirmative vote of five, which would mean at vote of at least one police officer. That amendment did not pass.
“Unfortunately, what you had last night from the City-County Council was an intentional act to inject politics into policing,” said Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police.
Snyder said he welcomes civilian input too, but he’s concerned this proposal strips the authority of the chief of police.
“I don’t know of any profession that says a civilian board should come in and strip authority away from the practitioners of that field,” he said.
Some Democratic council members argued that pitting civilian members against IMPD is a false narrative. Many councilors believe this new board will bring transparency to public policy surrounding law enforcement in the city.
“It is important for us to have knowledge of the processes and policies being made. Currently, these decisions are being done behind closed doors without community input,” said Councilor Jessica McCormick.
Council members approved amendments that forbid felons from serving on the committee. If a civilian member or family files a lawsuit or complaint, a replacement will be named within 30 days by the party that appointed that member.