INDIANAPOLIS -- Wanting to better the relationship between the community and police following the fatal police shooting of Aaron Bailey, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced changes Friday to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's policies and training procedures.
"On Monday of this week, I said if a community does not bear witness together, if it chooses to look the other way in the face of a painful past, it risks its very soul," Hogsett said. "Today in Indianapolis, we bear witness. Today in Indianapolis, we act."
The changes come a little more than two weeks after two IMPD officers shot and killed Bailey on the city's west side.
Police say Bailey was driving just before 2:00 a.m. on June 29 when officers pulled him over for a traffic violation near the intersection of Burdsal Parkway and Riverside Drive. During that stop, Bailey sped from the scene and then crashed into a tree near the intersection of 23rd and Aqueduct streets.
After that crash, two officers fired "multiple" rounds at the vehicle, hitting Bailey. He was taken to the hospital where he later died.
No weapon was found inside the vehicle.
The changes announced by Mayor Hogsett include implicit bias training of those who train IMPD officers. IMPD will bring in experts who have worked with the U.S. Department of Justice to understand implicit bias in the department and in the community.
Implicit bias is attitudes or stereotypes that affect how we act without knowing them, according to Ohio State University's Kirwan Institute.
Hogsett said that effort will be the first of its kind in the country.
He also announced the creation of a Use of Force Review Board, which would evaluate every incident where an officer used any level of force, including physical force, a Taser or a gun.
"This review will better protect our law enforcement officers and our community, shining a light on what happened in any particular incident and why," Hogsett said.
In addition, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department will establish an Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as part of IMPD's training program. The office will include both officers and community members.
Going forward, IMPD's training program will have a "strong focus" on minimizing the role implicit bias has on how officers interact with the community.
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Mayor Hogsett was asked why he was making these changes now, as opposed to after the investigations into Bailey's death are complete. There is a criminal investigation, an administrative investigation and an FBI investigation into what happened. He said the investigations are more about what exactly happened June 29, while the changes are for the future.
"The focus of these recommendations are really how as a community we can better deal with these types of issues - police-action shootings - in the future," Hogsett said.
He promised more changes to come.
"I want to make it clear that this conversation does not end today," Hogsett said. "This conversation will continue in the weeks, months and the years ahead. We find ourselves bearing the weight of hundreds of years of history. We will not shed that legacy overnight. I wish we could. But neither will we shirk our duty to carry that load. That's my load."
Several faith based groups like the Ten Point Coalition and IndyCAN said they've been waiting for similar programs for more than a year.
"We think this is a really promising beginning. We're thankful for this proactive response. We think it's high time and we're glad the mayor has responded so well," said Steve Carlsen of IndyCAN.
On Friday, the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police released the following statement about the changes:
"We look forward to learning additional details of the concepts outlined by the Mayor today.
Issues of mutual trust and respect between officers and the public are paramount to our collective membership. That is why we have proactively advocated for and participated in efforts that address the opportunities for enhancement of that relationship throughout our Indianapolis community.
The FOP in collaboration with our Chief of Police and members of our community has been working on many of these topics for quite some time.
We look forward to continued dialogue and productive engagement by everyone involved.
As we continue our progress, we appreciate the ongoing support of our residents and visitors for our police department which is made up of women and men who never waver in their commitment to protect our neighborhoods and the multiple events hosted within our City."
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