INDIANAPOLIS — A controversial proposal to give citizens more say and oversight in police policy was adopted by the Indianapolis City-County Council Monday night.
Proposal 237 has to do with what's known as the General Orders, a working document that spells out the policy and procedures for IMPD.
The General Orders Review Board keeps track of and weighs in on new policies and revisions. Currently, it's comprised of three IMPD officers.
Approval of the proposal adds four civilians to the board, giving it a civilian majority.
Councilors Keith Potts and Crista Carlino sponsored the proposal.
"I am so grateful tonight to my Council colleagues and our community partners for the hours they’ve dedicated to bringing this proposal to fruition," Potts said in a statement published after the meeting. "Our goal from the beginning has been to prioritize the ‘public’ in ‘public safety’ in a way that is rooted in the Council’s commitment to dismantling inequities of race, place, and identity and in a way that builds public trust with our law enforcement partners. Months of dialogue with Faith in Indiana and others in the community have resulted in a new ordinance that I believe will create safer conditions for officers and the public."
Prior to the vote, advocates said it gives the community a voice and provides more transparency. But opponents say it hamstrings the chief, by putting policy-making in the hands of an appointed board.
"We want to see this proposal stopped and fixed," said Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder. "It would strip the ultimate accountability and authority of the chief of police for policy making of the police department."
Pastor Ken Sullivan, the faith leader at New Direction Church, disagrees.
"This is an added layer of accountability and partnering through co-governing," he said.
Sullivan is also part of Faith Indiana, which has pressed for the changes. He said giving civilians a say in how officers do their jobs is good for everyone.
"We believe it will absolutely improve relations with the community and build trust and credibility," Sullivan said. "It will bring more unity and make people feel reassured when they have a voice and a seat at the table."
Snyder said while he welcomes civilian input, it should not majority-civilian "and put in the hands of an unelected board."
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor released the following statement before Monday's vote:
"IMPD has listened to recent calls for change in policing and public safety, and taken steps to better reflect the way our community wants us to serve. And we recognize the need for civilian participation in our processes, for it is only when we all work together that we will see the improvement in public safety that our community deserves.
That’s why we have created a higher standard for use of force, banned the dangerous practice of no-knock warrants, and are implementing a permanent body-worn camera program. It’s also why we are finalizing the new Use of Force Review Board with significant civilian participation, which will have the authority to review any use of force by an IMPD officer.
We remain dedicated to moving IMPD and our city forward and will continue our ongoing discussions with the City-County Council and the members of our community to ensure we are best serving the people of Indianapolis."