Indiana News

Democrats Want Bipartisan Commission to Consider IMPD Changes

Two councillors, mayoral hopeful say Republican proposals would take too long

8/26/2010

Democrats want a bipartisan commission to review Republicans' proposed changes at IMPD, and consider other possible reforms.

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City-County Councillors Maggie Lewis and Brian Mahern and mayoral hopeful Melina Kennedy didn't offer any suggestions of their own, but they say the bipartisan task force Republicans proposed to examine a couple of department policies shouldn't stop there. They want the panel to review all aspects of how police misconduct is investigated.

Council president Ryan Vaughn and fellow Republican councillor Benjamin Hunter had proposed 10 changes, including a public database of police honors and complaints; a requirement that officers complete 60 college credit hours, with a degree required for promotion; a bipartisan review of misconduct and take-home car policies; and an overall policy review, coupled with a ramp-up of training, with an eye to seeking national accreditation in four years.

Mahern, Lewis and Kennedy are noncommittal about those changes, but say they would take too long to bring change to a department Kennedy says has systemic problems. They say a bipartisan commission could complete its work within 10 weeks of enactment by the council.

"This is a golden opportunity to try and reform the way public safety is done in Indianapolis. We want to make sure it's thoughtful. Speedy, but thoughtful," Mahern says.

Lewis and Kennedy have joined Mahern's call earlier this week for public safety director Frank Straub to resign or be fired. Kennedy charges Straub "impeded" the investigation of suspended officer David Bisard by announcing officers' initial findings that alcohol was not involved in Bisard's fatal crash, only to have a blood-alcohol test show Bisard well above the legal limit.

That test has since been thrown out as inadmissible because investigators failed to observe proper protocols for taking the sample.

"Now that the blood test may not be admissible, the evidence that the prosecution will have to rely on is going to be whether or not there were signs of (Bisard's) intoxication, and now we have the public safety director, who wasn't even there, on record saying he wasn't intoxicated," Kennedy says.

Prosecutors have already dropped all alcohol-related charges against Bisard. Bisard is still charged with recklessness and reckless homicide.

Mahern, Lewis and Kennedy also called for an independent top-to-bottom investigation of IMPD by an outside agency. Straub has already asked the FBI and the Washington-based Police Executive Research Forum to review IMPD's procedures, especially what happened the night of Bisard's crash.

MORE FROM WIBC NEWS:
» Indy Residents Voice Support For IMPD (8-26-10)
» Ministers Get Meeting With Mayor (8-26-10)
» PR Specialist: IMPD Has Responded Well to Scandals (8-24-10)
» Ministers Call for Public Safety Director's Dismissal (8-24-10)
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