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Lawmakers discuss what's in place in Indiana to address police misconduct in the wake of Tyre Nichols

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Posted at 11:10 PM, Jan 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-30 23:13:29-05

INDIANAPOLIS — In Indiana and across the country, there are renewed calls for police reform in the wake of the death of Tyre Nichols.

"I was horrified. I thought how could we have officers of the same race treat someone with no humanity?" said Representative Robin Shackleford. "What are we doing here in Indiana that would prevent us from having that same type of interaction happen?"

"What was described was, unfortunately, what we saw," said Representative Earl Harris Jr.

For Harris, the images and video hit home. His family is from Memphis.

"Watching that makes you wonder how people whose job is to serve and protect, let alone being humans in general — how could they treat someone like that?" said Harris.

In 2021, state lawmakers unanimously passed a bill dealing with law enforcement in the wake of George Floyd’s death and called for police accountability.

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"What we got was de-escalation training. We also got chokeholds being defined as a deadly weapon. If an officer got found with misconduct, he could be decertified. Another thing that we got is if an officer goes from one agency to another, their record will follow them," said Shackleford.

That law prompted another bill this year that provides parameters for mental health situations. The bill is scheduled for its third reading in the House this week.

"The Department of Corrections, which is our biggest mental health provider, should not be that way. It should be experts who are trained. Experts who do this and know how best to work with a person that should really be handling this," said Harris.

It will also adjust for police body cameras.

"There were changes that needed to be made on who could see it, when they could see it and how long it needed to be stored. I think now we have to go back and say, okay, that footage should be released within 48 hours," said Shackleford.

"We are a state that sends mixed messages," said Reverend David Greene Sr.

Rev. Greene has been very vocal about transparency regarding law enforcement. He says Indiana’s efforts are just a start.

"We want this on this side, regarding mental health, etc. But on the other side, we'll do some things that'll cause you to say, now, how is that going to match and work," said Greene.

Lawmakers say the goal is to be proactive.

"We all want the same thing, and that is to be safe. We want Indianapolis to be a safe city. We want our police officers to go home to their families. We want bad people to be in jail, but we also want someone who does not merit dying over something ending up dead," said Greene.

HB 1006 was passed out of the Courts and Criminal Code Committee and will get a third reading in the house Tuesday, January 31.

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