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More civilian oversight in place on new IMPD police review boards

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Posted at 7:21 PM, Jul 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-13 01:06:35-04

INDIANAPOLIS — It has been one year since last summer’s protests surrounding race relations and calling for accountability in policing. So where are we now as a city? Did anything change?

“For me, tremendous progress has been made,” said Dr. Clyde Posley Jr., Antioch Baptist Church senior pastor. “The general orders board: This is the first of its kind quite frankly, arguably in the country.”

Posley Jr. is the chairman of the new IMPD general orders board, a civilian-majority board, tasked with overseeing, interpreting and changing police department policy. They examine policies such as how officers carry out their jobs, when and how to use force, how to handle complaints — all things previously left up to the police chief.

“It’s something that I think in my view should’ve always existed,” he said. “I don’t believe it has ever been the proper thing to do to have a constituency policed and have no say so in how they’re policed.”

His PhD work is in critical race theory and Martin Luther King’s non-violence interaction. He was appointed to the board by City-County Council President Vop Osili. Osili, Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor, and IMPD all appointed different members to the board ranging from an IU criminal law professor, the Indy NAACP President, an attorney and manager at Cummins, and a former police chief.

“I probably have more research under my belt about these kind of issues than many of the police do,”Posley Jr. said. “They have academy training. But I have a social science and sociology type of training.”

The previous policy board had no civilian representation and meetings were closed to the public. Now, they will be open to the public.

“I want people to have access to what is happening and how they’re being treated,” the board chairman said.

But that’s not the only change IMPD made since last year. Metro police also created the Use of Force Review Board, replacing the existing Firearms Review Board, and now containing more civilians than officers. The nine members will review and advise whether an officer’s use of force was in line with policy, covering physical altercations, or deployment of taser or firearm.

“There’s so much at stake,” DeAndra Dycus said. “We have a heavy job doing this board.”

Dycus is the founder of Purpose 4 My Pain, a nonprofit supporting people who have been impacted by gun violence. Her work in the community and relations with police, she says, makes her a perfect fit for a position on the review board.

“When it comes to accountability, we have to be honest,” Dycus said. “We have to work through implicit bias. We have to work through assumptions and really just get to the heart of the matter in this.”

The Use of Force Review Board won’t have the authority to recommend discipline for an officer, but instead make an advisory finding to determine whether actions complied with policy.

Members on this board include an HR consulting firm director, an Indiana Department of Corrections transitional healthcare liaison, a Marian University executive director, and four ranked IMPD officers.

“When decisions are made, whether we like those or not, we can at least point to reasons why these decisions were made,” Posley Jr. said. “I think in my view it’s what led to probably a conviction in the George Floyd murder trial with Derek Chauvin. We got to see more evidence.”

These people aren’t paid to be on these boards, they say, but they are taking this responsibility on to provide more accountability for their communities.

“I’m not a superhero,” said Dycus. “I’ve just been asked to do something pretty darn amazing. But I’m not a superhero. I don’t have any magic powers. I’m just bringing the humanity and the compassion that I have for this from a community side and not seeing my community continually hurt and disappointed.”

“All of us are flawed doing this work. “We’re trying to rely on each other and multiple boards to try to get it right,” Posley Jr. added.

For the General Orders Board, City-County Council President Vop Osili appointed IU criminal law professor Lahny Silva and Antioch Baptist Church Pastor Clyde Posley. Mayor Hogsett chose a lawyer and manager for Cummins, Jasmin French, and Indy NAACP President Chrystal Ratcliffe. Chief Randal Taylor appointed former Chief Bryan Roach and IMPD Capt. David Robinson. IMPD chose Sgt. Kevin Kendall.

For the Use of Force Review Board, Mayor Hogsett appointed HR consulting firm director Kristen Abbott and general counsel for Apria Healthcare Michael-Bryant Hicks. Vop Osili nominated Indiana Dept. of Corrections transitional healthcare liaison Myrna Martin, founder of “Purpose 4 My Pain” DeAndra Yates-Dycus and Marian University executive director Leon A. Jackson.

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