Straub contract approved by council panel

Frank Straub

Emily Longnecker/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The man at the center of a police controversy was forced to defend his job Wednesday night. Public Safety Director Frank Straub was grilled by city leaders, police reps, and preachers.

Wednesday's vote by a City-County Council panel was 5-2 in favor of Straub keeping his job, but the discussion's not over. The full City-County Council will vote on it December 20th.

Frank Straub was in the hot seat, facing questions about how he's done his job since coming here 11 months ago.

"We are re-engineering the department. We are building a nationally recognized public safety department and we are moving forward," said Straub.

On Straub's watch, the Indianapolis Metro Police Department has come under fire for its handling of several high profile cases, including the Officer David Bisard crash investigation, and allegations of police brutality against an Indianapolis teen.

But some city leaders questioned Straub's support from officers on the streets.

"Unless that coach can get buy-in from the people that are actually going to go out in the field and implement it, I don't think Vince Lombardi or Tony Dungy is going to every have success," said Aaron Freeman, City-County councilor.

The FOP urged its members to contact their own councilors about Straub's performance. They say 90 percent of its members are not happy with Straub's leadership.

"We want to feel like we're part of the team. They used how many sports analogies tonight - we're not part of the team. We're the clean-up crew," said William Owensby, FOP president.

There was support for Straub among some of the city's clergy who want to see reform inside IMPD.

"This man has been on the job 11 months. He came into a mess. After the mess hit him, the buzz saw hit him. He's been trying to climb up out of a hole," said Pastor T. Benjamin, Light of the World Christian Church.

"On behalf of the clergy, we have concerns about the process of simply going for a popularity contest instead of effective leadership," said Dr. Kent Millard, Pastor, Saint Luke's United Methodist Church.

Straub said there's more team work going on inside the department than has been talked about.

"There really is a lot more participation and we need to talk about that a little bit more and obviously that's something we need to do and we will do," said Straub.