Metro Police push for change after Bisard case

IMPD Chief Rick Hite

The future of all Indianapolis Metro Police Department officers has been impacted by the David Bisard case.

There have been changes in leadership, with a new chief and a new public safety director. The department has also made significant changes to better recognize and treat alcohol issues involving officers, as well as strengthening punishments for those who drink and drive.

Now, Chief Rick Hite says he wants changes in how quickly officers accused of serious wrongdoing are disciplined. He wants to have the power to fire them.

"I think there may be some cases where any reasonable and prudent person would see the value of moving forward and, in fact, separating that individual from the agency," Hite said.

With the guilty verdict handed down Tuesday, suspended Officer David Bisard likely will soon be terminated. The recommendation to the IMPD Merit Board is now imminent.

But it's been three years since his arrest and some of public safety's top brass say that's too long to wait for a termination.

"Yeah, I'd like to be able to have more say in that. We understand and respect the merit law currently as it exists, but we've had occasions with, as long as four to five years, where people languished on our books," Hite explained.

Only the IMPD Merit Board, with seven civilian members, has the power to fire officers right now.

The fallout from Bisard's case could push for change.

"I think part of that is giving the chief that ability. We'll be talking more about that in the upcoming days," said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

Merit Board President Michael Morken told Eyewitness News by phone Tuesday, "I understand their frustration as administrators, but the existing protocol is appropriate. The system as we have it may not be perfect, but I think it's fair."

Jim White, a public safety lecturer at IUPUI and former state trooper, agrees. He says it's due process.

"I think you need to have the oversight and I think it's important that you have the oversight," White said. "This makes it all above board and it involves the community and I think that's critically important. Also, police officers should have due process. We may arrest you, but we have to prove that you're guilty."