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Indy Fraternal Order of Police ask for immediate changes following officer charges

Officers Steven Sanchez and Adam Ahmad face charges stemming from the death of Herman Whitfield III
Charged officers.PNG
Posted at 1:44 PM, Apr 14, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-14 13:44:34-04

INDIANAPOLIS — 24 hours after the announcement of charges against two IMPD officers in connection with the death of Herman Whitfield III, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 86 is asking for wide ranging changes to protocol surrounding mental health calls.

In a statement sent to local media, FOP President Rick Snyder says he does not believe the facts of the incident with Whitfield III support criminal charges.

“While this tragic outcome rightly requires diligent review, we do not believe the facts of this incident support criminal charges against the responding officers,” Snyder said. “These IMPD Officers were dispatched and sent to this residence following the call for assistance from family members. The person involved was a large 39-year-old male behaving unpredictably. The officers proactively requested emergency medical services while the officers attempted to deescalate and secure the situation with trained procedures and an electronic control device so that medical care could safely be provided.”

Despite the FOP’s opinion, charges were filed, and the officers appeared in court Friday morning.

With the decision, the FOP is calling on IMPD Chief of Police Randal Taylor to make the following changes in the future.

Those steps:

  • Immediately Order that all calls for assistance with anyone suffering a mental health crisis (including self-harm) be referred to Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (IEMS) and Fire services (IFD) for an immediate medical response;
  • Immediately cease any law enforcement response for mental health runs, mental health disturbances, mental health crisis or mental health delirium unless a known crime or articulated threat of a crime has taken place.

“Significantly, none of these changes require a change in funding, but do require a change to response protocols and dispatch procedures,” Snyder said. “Upon arrival, Emergency Medical Services can always request assistance once they become aware of a crime that has occurred or are criminally threatened with injury or violence from the patient.”
You can read the entire statement below:

"Yesterday, 4/13/2023, we learned of the public announcement of charges against (2) two IMPD Officers following the death of Herman Whitfield III.

First and foremost, any death is a tragedy and our prayers go out to the Whitfield family.

While this tragic outcome rightly requires diligent review, we do not believe the facts of this incident support criminal charges against the responding officers.

These IMPD Officers were dispatched and sent to this residence following the call for assistance from family members.

The person involved was a large 39-year-old male behaving unpredictably.

The officers proactively requested emergency medical services while the officers attempted to deescalate and secure the situation with trained procedures and an electronic control device so that medical care could safely be provided.

We look forward to learning exactly what information was known to the officers at the time, what information was provided to 911 dispatchers by the caller(s), including what was relayed to officers.

Additionally, we welcome a complete review of what information was provided to the Grand Jury by the Marion County Prosecutor (and just as importantly what information was not provided by the Prosecutor).

Now that charges have been filed, we will defer to the Justice process as it relates to the specifics of this matter.

However, given the nature of the lengthy review process and the facts surrounding this outcome, we call upon the IMPD Chief of Police to take the following steps:

• Immediately Order that all calls for assistance with anyone suffering a mental health crisis (including self-harm) be referred to Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services (IEMS) and Fire services (IFD) for an immediate medical response;

• Immediately cease any law enforcement response for mental health runs, mental health disturbances, mental health crisis or mental health delirium unless a known crime or articulated threat of a crime has taken place.

Significantly, none of these changes require a change in funding, but do require a change to response protocols and dispatch procedures.

Upon arrival, Emergency Medical Services can always request assistance once they become aware of a crime that has occurred or are criminally threatened with injury or violence from the patient.

As an additional interim step: any concerns regarding non-peaceful incidents should be directed to the Indianapolis Peacekeepers through the Office of Public Health and Safety.

When any crime or threatened crime occurs toward these Peacekeepers, a call for assistance from Police Personnel should be sought.

Finally, if any law enforcement officers are sent to assist IEMS and/or Peacekeepers on a Mental Health incident, and although officers are trained on approved procedures, a police supervisor should be dispatched and sent to assess the scene and provide any additional direction for officers in real-time.

We believe these proactive steps can mitigate the exposure of potential injuries to any persons involved as well as mitigate criminal and civil liability to officers, the city and the tax payers of Indianapolis.

This will also allow for a community-based approach to the ongoing and surging mental health crisis faced by our capital city.

Again, we call upon the IMPD Chief of Police to take these actions immediately."
Indy FOP President Rick Snyder