Council approves Straub contract

Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub

David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The City-County Council voted Monday night to keep embattled Public Safety Director Frank Straub.

Straub won reappointment on a 16-13 vote, with three Democrats crossing party lines to support him and two Republicans going the other way, against him. The vote is viewed as a victory for Mayor Greg Ballard, who is up for re-election next year.

Democrat Vernon Brown said the vote didn't matter. He says the mayor could have kept reappointing Straub, whether the council liked it or not, so he voted for Straub.

"If the whole council votes no, he'll still have a job tomorrow, right? We don't have the authority to get rid of him, it's unfortunate," said Brown, a Democrat.

The police union has had a rocky relationship with Straub after incidents like the handling of the Officer David Bisard case, in which a motorcyclist was killed while Bisard allegedly drove drunk. Relations were also strained by the case of an officer who allegedly used excessive force subduing a teen suspect.

"It was a process I hope sent a message, there are things that need to be re-examined and need to be changed," said FOP President William Owensby.

Straub also said he was cautiously optimistic that relations between all sides can be improved.

The mayor's office says the vote shows support for Ballard's police reforms. Straub said 2011 looks to be a positive year for those reforms.

A council panel voted 5-2 in favor of renewing his contract earlier this month, sending the contract before the full council.