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Marion County sheriff suing over deputies denied entry to law enforcement training academy

Sheriff's departments in all of the other 91 counties are allowed to send deputies to the academy, according to Captain Mitch Gore with the MCSO.

INDIANAPOLIS — The Marion County Sheriff's Office is suing the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board over deputies not being admitted into the state's training academy. 

Sheriff Kerry Forestal claims his department has worked to get his deputies admitted to the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy but has exhausted all options without success.

The department said that before the merger with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the sheriff's office in 2007, the training academy accepted 30 to 40 deputies each year. Since that time, none have been accepted.

Forestal said he requested 20 deputies per year to be admitted or, if that wasn't possible, for the training board to sanction the MCSO academy as a certified academy. 

Captain Mitch Gore with the MCSO told 13News, deputies are disadvantaged in several ways. First, deputies miss out on updated training, including de-escalation, accountability and unconscious bias. Gore said the state-of-the-art training happening at the academy would be extremely beneficial to deputies when they are serving warrants, checking on sex offenders or dealing with suspects in the jail or courtrooms. Currently, deputies oversee more that 170 inmates in the Marion County Jail awaiting trial for murder. 

“Marion County Jail is the focal point for everything you see in the community. If murders go up, suspects in the jail go up,” Gore said.

Second, only the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy can graduate certified law enforcement officers in the state. Without that certification, a deputy looking to move to other law enforcement agencies would be unable to make a lateral transition.

Credit: Marion County Sheriff's Office

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Gore told 13News that sheriff's departments in all of the other 91 counties are allowed to send deputies to the academy, along with school, university and hospital departments. He said that town marshals are even afforded to training at the academy.

There is also concern about a new Indiana law that requires training in de-escalation as part of the use-of-force curriculum for law enforcement officers. Forestal is concerned about his department being in compliance with that mandate. 

For its part, the MCSO has its own academy and Gore told 13News that, in many areas, the deputies receive hours of training beyond what is done at the law enforcement academy. But with the new justice center soon to open and 71 courtrooms to protect in a county seeing record violence, Gore said the sheriff wants to make sure his deputies have access to the best training possible.

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13News asked Gore why the issue was being pressed after all these years. He said it was a commitment Forestal made when he took office and that the new Indiana law on de-escalation training escalated the need. Gore said conversations began back in June with the training board ahead of the law taking effect in July.

The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board released the following statement to 13News:

The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board is aware of the intent by Marion County Sheriff Kerry Forestal to file a lawsuit against this Board but has not yet received any formal court documents. At this time, it would be inappropriate to discuss these matters publicly until and after the legal process has been exhausted, and a decision has been rendered by the court. This Board would never make any decisions which would have a detrimental impact on public safety.

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