FOP president blasts city leaders over demotions

FOP President Bill Owensby

Richard Essex/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The president of a local police organization is blasting city officials over the demotion of three IMPD supervisors.

Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby says Commander John Conley, Assistant Police Chief Darryl Pierce and Deputy Chief Ronald Hicks were "railroaded" by Public Safety Director Frank Straub when they were demoted Saturday. City officials cited a lack of leadership and communication as reasons for the demotions.

The three men were all at the accident scene involving IMPD Officer David Bisard, who tested positive for alcohol after hitting three motorcyclists August 6, killing one and seriously injuring two others.

"There was no reason to believe there was any impairment. There was no reason to believe there was any alcohol involved, so therefore, there weren't any reasons to take actions," Owensby said.

A blood test administered to Bisard was later considered inadmissible evidence, because it was performed at the wrong place. The three ranking officers that were at the accident have been busted down in rank for their actions - or inactions - that day.

"If they would have gotten any inklings of alcohol impairment by Officer Bisard, they would have taken action, I can promise you that. There is no cover-up, there is no code of silence," Owensby said.

But in the court of public opinion managed by Mayor Greg Ballard, IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski and Straub, the public safety director, someone has to be held accountable.

"What I can tell you is, they are all seasoned officers. There is probably 80-90 years of experience between them," Owensby said.

Owensby admits this has been a rough summer for the department, with officers accused of arson, excessive force and domestic battery.

"Some of it is our own doing, there is no question about it. There is a saying, 'Police officers are their own worst enemy sometimes,' and I've got to agree with that," he said.

In the current climate at the department, finding candidates to take the recently-opened positions may prove difficult.

"I would say there is no one anxious to take those jobs and it is going to be very tough to fill," Owensby said.

The mayor and public safety officials met over the weekend to find people to fill the positions. Announcements about those candidates are expected within the week.

Follow all the developments in the investigation