Indiana News

Straub And Owensby to Meet

12/10/2010

The two men often at odds over the direction of the Indianapolis Metro Police Department agree to discuss their differences.

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Indianapolis Public Safety Director Frank Straub tells 93 WIBC he will meet Monday with Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby to iron things out.

"I think we've engaged in some rhetoric that we shouldn't have engaged in...some conversations that we didn't have to engage in, but I think we're all committed to moving the department forward," Straub said.

Owensby has been repeatedly critical of the way IMPD administration has treated rank-and-file officers. In past interviews, he has accused Straub of failing to reach out to lower ranking members of the force about departmental changes.

Two high-profile incidents only added to the tension.

The FOP strongly supported officer Jerry Piland -- even paying for his attorney -- as he fought to keep his job after being accused of using excessive force in the arrest of 15-year-old Brandon Johnson.

Straub and Chief Paul Ciesielski wanted Piland fired. But the Civilian Police Merit Board cleared Piland, and he has rejoined the force.

The FOP also has strongly objected to the demotions of three supervisors linked to Officer David Bisard's case. On Aug. 6, Bisard crashed his squad car into a group of motorcyclists, killing one and critically injuring two.

A blood test showed Bisard was intoxicated, but a mistake in collecting the blood sample led Prosecutor Carl Brizzi to dismiss drunken driving charges.

But Straub has repeatedly argued those two cases do not paint an accurate picture of most of the IMPD officers and the way they feel about the force.

At the second IMPD Leadership Academy graduation ceremony Friday, he claimed department morale is on the rebound.

"I think the fact that I'm going to be meeting with FOP President Owensby on Monday, the fact that we have this program, the fact that the committee moved my reappointment to the council, I think all those are good signs."

At Monday's meeting, Chief Ciesielski and the FOP Board will also be present.

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