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Marion County Sheriff suing Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Nov 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-12 16:34:50-05

MARION COUNTY — Marion County Sheriff Kerry J. Forestal is suing the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board (ILETB) after the board rejected the office's proposals to allow deputies to train at its Plainfield academy.

The Marion County Sheriff's Office (MCSO) says it has made numerous requests to the board asking them to accept up to twenty deputies each year for Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) training.

As an alternative, the sheriff's office asked the board to recognize and certify the internationally accredited MCSO Training Academy to provide training and education. The academy's instructors are ILEA certified and some travel to Plainfield to instruct at the Academy.

Currently, graduates of MCSO's academy can only work for MSCO and cannot laterally transfer to other agencies because they are not ILEA certified.

The sheriff's office says its deputies have not been allowed to attend ILEA since the Indianapolis Police Department merged with the law enforcement division of the Marion County Sheriff's Office in 2007. Before the merger, around 30-40 MCSO deputies attended ILEA each year.

The sheriff's office has had meetings with ILEA since February 2020, and in October 2021, the "ILETB Chair firmly rejected the MCSO’s proposal to send any Marion County Deputy Sheriffs to ILEA or for the ILETB to recognize the Sheriff’s Academy," according to the sheriff's office.

"If they're not going to sanction it, I guess they have given me the authority to choose whatever I want to do if they don't sanction it and they have no authority over me. Is that really what they want? I don't think so," Forestal said.

Forestal said Marion County is the only county in the state that is not allowed to attend ILEA. An office spokesperson said the MCSO is the biggest sheriff's office and fourth-largest law enforcement agency in Indiana.

"What's different in Marion County than the other 91 counties, I don't know ... I'm just puzzled," he said. "I'm trying to say I believe in what you're doing, let us be part of that."

Forestal said it's been a problem to bring in new officers.

"It's been 14 years, we've run through what we have, the only option I have is to hire [an ILEA certified officer] from outside. If somebody wants to retire from somewhere else, I can bring them in. That's certainly not good for morale for someone who's spent their time working up the chain of command," Forestal said.

He calls HEA 1006, which was signed into law by Gov. Eric Holcomb in April 2021, "the dividing line."

The law says the law enforcement board should establish minimum standards for law enforcement training schools, courses of study, fitness and more. It also establishes enhanced training. A sheriff's office spokesperson says the MCSO wants to be a part of that and was under the impression Holcomb wanted all law enforcement agencies statewide to be a part of it.

The MSCO originally asked the board again if they could attend ILEA to participate in that enhanced training or if the board would sanction Marion County's academy. So far, the board has done neither.

Deputies say the hope following the lawsuit is to be able to send deputies to ILEA.

The Indiana Law Enforcement Board released the following statement:

The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board is aware of the intent by Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal to file a lawsuit against this Board but has not yet received any formal court documents. At this time, it would be inappropriate to discuss these matters publicly until and after the legal process has been exhausted, and a decision has been rendered by the court. This Board would never make any decisions which would have a detrimental impact on public safety.