Frank Straub to step down as Indianapolis public safety director
Embattled Public Safety Director Frank Straub is resigning in the wake of the mishandled evidence in the Officer David Bisard investigation that led to the resignation of the police chief and suspensions of two other key commanders.
Frank Straub's resignation will be effective August first.
"It came to be the right time to move on," said Straub in an interview with Eyewitness News Friday.
Straub says despite mounting pressure from the police union and City-County Council, he was not forced out by the mayor.
"We came to a decision together that it was the right time for me to resign and the department to bring in new leadership and to move the reform process forward," he said.
"He submitted his resignation and the mayor actually asked him to stay for 90 days to help transition thru the process," said Marc Lotter, mayor's office spokesman.
Straub, a New Yorker, was hired to re-engineer IMPD. He says his many accomplishments include a drop in the homicide rate and a safe, glitch-free Super Bowl. But he also clashed with the police union and, recently, council members over his handling of the Bisard case, budget issues and his abrasive management style.
After two lengthy hearings, councilors delayed his confirmation vote until May. Still, Council President Maggie Lewis said she was surprised to hear of his resignation.
"Overall, I believe he's been somewhat successful. Morale though is low, so this is a good conversation to have some conversations with officers," she said.
The FOP issued a statement saying while they were supportive of the announcement, "Many questions still exist especially as they relate to director Straub's replacement."
Last month FOP President told us, "you really can't put a finger on too many deliverables that have come out of this administration in terms of moving the police department forward...this really has become too much about the public safety director. That relationship needs to be between the police chief and FOP."
When asked if it had become too personal, Owensby said, "I'm not going to comment on that. They say their thing. I'm not going to speculate on that. It's time to move forward."
Straub came under fire for the way the David Bisard case was handled. Bisard is an Indianapolis Metro Police officer accused of driving drunk when he crashed his cruiser into a group of motorcyclists in August 2010. Eric Wells died and two others suffered life-changing injuries.
The investigation was marred by a blood draw that the defense argues is not admissible in court, and then a second revelation this month when it was learned that one of the blood samples had been removed from a refrigerated area, raising questions about whether it could still be used as evidence.
Former Chief Paul Ciesielski stepped down after the mishandling of evidence was announced.
The City-County Council postponed a confidence vote on Straub twice over the past month.
The Fraternal Order of Police has also been calling for Straub to step down over what it calls the mismanagement of funds. The city's public safety budget is $30 million in the red.
Last week, Straub compared himself to an "exterminator."
"We're kind of in this position where you have bugs in your house. You call the exterminator. The exterminator comes and says you've got bugs in your house and I have to get rid of them. And you get mad at the exterminator because there's bugs in the house. The exterminator didn't put the bugs in the house. You called the exterminator to solve the problem," he said.
"Clearly, there was a need and recognition two years and four months ago that we need to re-engineer the police department. We need to modernize the police department. We had to give the police department better equipment, we had to make their job safer. So the mayor conducted a national search asked me to come, and for two years and four months we've endeavoring to make those changes."
Statement from Mayor Ballard:
"Frank Straub came to Indianapolis facing the difficult task of updating and modernizing the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at the same time preparing for and successfully hosting the highest profile event in this city's history. It hasn't always been easy but meaningful reform seldom is.
During Frank's tenure criminal homicides are at their lowest levels in 15 years, the city's integrated public safety model is receiving national and international recognition, IMPD and IFD training is being modernized and steps are being actively taken to improve the diversity of hiring and promotions in our public safety departments.
Frank Straub's work set the stage for the Department of Public Safety and all of its divisions to proudly serve this city in a positive fashion for years to come."
Statement from FOP President Bill Owensby:
"Obviously, our membership is supportive of the Mayor's announcement regarding the transition within the Department of Public Safety. However, many questions still exist especially as they relate to Directors Straub's replacement.
In the interim, we remain focused on our current and future budgetary challenges which threaten our community policing efforts. We stand by our FOP Ten Step Stabilization Plan which included this transition and we now look forward to working with our community and our elected officials to take the remaining nine steps.
We remain committed to assist in this process if allowed to do so. We look forward to working WITH the Mayor, the City County Council and the police department's leadership to make a great department even better through meaningful improvements. Our membership continues to strive for excellence in their chosen profession and simply seek the tools, equipment and proper leadership to achieve our community's goals."
Statement from Marion County Sheriff John Layton:
Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub telephoned Sheriff John Layton this morning to advise him of his decision to resign as Public Safety Director. Just last Tuesday, Sheriff Layton issued a statement that he looked forward to continuing to work with all parties, including Public Safety Director Straub, to find positive solutions to the difficult public safety funding challenges facing the City and County.
During the course of the conversation this morning, the two Public Safety Officials agreed to continue their efforts during Dr. Straub's remaining tenure. "Over the last several weeks, Dr. Straub and I have worked together finding that our offices faced similar challenges and we realized that by working more closely together we might better meet these challenges successfully," said Sheriff Layton. "I appreciate the dialogue with the Department of Public Safety, and I hope to have a good relationship with the next Public Safety Director."