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One-on-One: IMPD Chief Bryan Roach talks crime, body cameras, and his decision to retire

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Posted at 5:30 AM, Dec 09, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-09 07:43:36-05

INDIANAPOLIS — The process to find the next Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Police Chief is underway.

Bryan Roach will not return for Mayor Joe Hogsett's, D-Indianapolis, second term.

RTV6 sat down with the chief to discuss crime, body cameras, and what led to his decision to retire.

Watch the full interview with Chief Bryan Roach here:

In January 2017, Roach was named police chief of IMPD. Three years later, he's moving on.

On Roach's watch, overall crime is down — but fatal shootings continue to pile on.

The Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) asked where everyone's outrage is in a tweet on Friday.

'Outrage' is among the many topics discussed in the one-on-one interview.

"Outrage is an emotion. I think in this position, it benefited me not to be too high or too low," Chief Roach said. "It doesn't mean we don't recognize the issue."

Roach further explained, "Just because I don't call you in, and express my emotions, or use the term like 'outrage' does not mean it hasn't significantly impacted us (IMPD) as an agency."

"There is outrage, but it's not communicated emotionally," he said. "It's seeing what occurred, and how to get better and impact it."

Weeks before the Mayoral election, the Chief had decided not to return.

"My wife threw out a year — 1996. She said ... since then, you've had a pager, back then, or a cell phone, and I've been lying next to you as it's gone off, in the middle of the night," Roach said. "I realized the impact on my wife and family."

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Chief Roach believes his replacement is within the ranks. He hopes he or she will continue the efforts to hire more women and people of color.

Roach also believes the eventual deployment of body cameras is necessary — especially in building community trust.

"That (body cameras) is the future. In the pilot program, you saw officers that want it," Roach said. "Officers are out there doing the right thing, and they want to capture it."

"It's (in) our ability to look at that (body camera footage), share it with officers, and identify training needs, or policy needs, that we may need to change," Roach said.

In Chief Roach's three years, he's had several successes.

Roach's success includes the return of community-based beat policing, the establishment of the Crime Gun Intelligence Center that had helped identify guns used in crime — 2,900 guns have been identified this year alone.

Further successes included the department's effort to increase diversity within the ranks, and improving officer training on fair and impartial policing to address implicit bias.

The police-involved shooting death of Aaron Bailey in June 2017, during a traffic stop, would be among high profile events to test Chief Roach six months into his new job.

The officers in the incident were cleared, and Chief Roach is credited for putting in place new training to deal with implicit bias.

"To think that there are young black males out there that are scared when an officer walks to their car and fearing death, that's something we needed to change," Roach said.

When asked if people of color in Indianapolis can feel less fear when being pulled by a cop after setting in motion implicit bias training, Roach said:

"I don't think I can change the perception. What I can say, we are really working so that whatever happened in the past happens less; so that the feeling on the other side doesn't occur."

The spike in gun-related violence led to the creation of the Gun Intelligence Unit under the chief's watch.

Instead of waiting up to six months, detectives can now get details about a weapon within two days. That information is now shared to determine if the weapon was used in another crime in the region.

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As Roach reflected on the Indianapolis community and his fellow officers he shared his emotions:

"This is a great agency. They are really here to serve and they care," Roach said. "They appreciate all the concerns and accolades that officers receive and I've received."

"There is some reward to know that people think highly of the organization that you serve and lead," Roach continued. "That's what probably makes it emotional."

When asked if he will miss the agency, Roach said, "Yeah, I'll miss it. (I'll) miss the people."