INDIANAPOLIS — A new bill filed by two Indiana state senators would put the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department in the hands of a state-appointed board.
The bill, filed by Sens. Jack Sandlin, R-Indianapolis, and Scott Baldwin, R-Noblesville, would create a five-member board to "provide a new level of governance and civilian oversight" and reduce political influences, they say. The mayor of Indianapolis and four members appointed by the governor would serve on the board.
If the bill makes it through the Statehouse, the board would take over in January 2023.
If enacted, the bill would:
- Adopt, amend and enforce municipal ordinances
- Resolutions and rules pertaining to the administration of IMPD
- Serve as the merit board for the department
- Appoint the police chief, who would operate the department
The move comes as the department faced a record level of homicides in 2020 and as the state legislature plans to begin looking at new bills tomorrow.
Sandlin says Senate Bill 168 came after he spoke with the community about concerns they have with the department. He says he took a look at models and ways he might be able to help respond to the issues and rebuild trust in the department.
"Indianapolis is an economic engine for the state of Indiana and we have people from all over the state to come to Indianapolis to visit, we have a great convention business, we have all these great sports teams," Sandlin said. "We need to do something dramatic, in my opinion, and others, to try to take a look at the governance so we might be able to have an opportunity to reinstill that relationship and confidence in the community."
He said he doesn't see it as a takeover, but as an opportunity to provide better services to the community, businesses, and visitors.
Community members and law enforcement officers have spoken with Sandlin about the lack of trust, confidence, and dependability within the department.
"You cannot have a good police department, you cannot have good community relations, in my opinion, unless you have trust on all sides of that," Sandlin said. "This is a way to kind of reestablish or rebuild the trust among the community and the police department, and help professionalize the department at the same time."
Sandlin says he is confident they will get a hearing on the bill.
The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police released the following statement in response to the proposal:
We are aware of the proposal introduced by Senators Sandlin and Baldwin regarding a Police Commission to oversee the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
We and our State FOP leaders continue to monitor this proposal while we await further details on it along with the myriad of other proposed legislation during the upcoming session.
In the interim, our Indianapolis officers and their families remain focused on the broken system of “revolving door” criminal justice, the surging violence and record breaking homicide levels along with the ever-increasing threats faced by our law enforcement professionals within our State’s Capital City.
WRTV reached out to the Indianapolis Mayor's Office and IMPD for a statement in response to the bill on Sunday afternoon. We are awaiting their responses.