INDIANAPOLIS — The Indianapolis Civilian Police Merit Board discussed proposed changes to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) disciplinary process Tuesday night.
The merit board is under a city county ordinance and was created to establish disciplinary policies for use in all disciplinary matters of IMPD. The board handles all issues related to the hiring, promotion, and discipline of IMPD officers. It's made up of seven volunteer members.
Four members are appointed by the mayor, one by the city council, and two who are elected by the sworn officers of the police department. No current police officer can sit on the board.
"Three of our members are retired police officers. Each comes from very different backgrounds and experiences. We are a majority, minority board," Frank Sullivan, board president, said. "Four of our seven members are African American, three [are] Caucasian. Two are women, five are men and we have a variety of experiences in our personal lives."
Sullivan said it's no secret crime has seen an uptick in Indianapolis and says it is critically important that in today's climate, police departments have civilian oversight.
"We all know that we have serious public safety issues in our community and it's only if the community and the police department work together that we are going to be able to reduce the surge of violent crime that is so much on all of our minds these days," he said. "I think this is important both for our officers and for the public. It gives the officers confidence that their hiring, promotion and discipline will not be handled through a political process in any way. I hope that it gives confidence to the citizens of our community that the police department is being overseen by their fellow citizens."
IMPD is proposing changes to how their officers are punished. Sullivan says the spotlight shown on police brutality during protests last year was part of the consideration of the process.
"I think it's fair to say that IMPD was working on making improvements to the disciplinary process before the terrible events of last summer," Sullivan said.
He added there isn't a sense that the current system is broken, but said the current matrix introduced in 2015 is too cut and dry.
"The old system didn't take into account the intent of the officer or the circumstances of the effect on the community. The new system does the opposite," Sullivan said.
The proposal calls for two primary tables and a penalty table for discipline — starting with a verbal warning all the way up to recommendation of termination.
If the proposal is approved, it will allow each situation to be looked at on a case by case basis. The merit board plans to vote on the proposed changes early next year and they want input from the community. Comments can be emailed to IMPD_Planning@indy.gov.
For more information on the proposed changes, click here.