INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Public Safety Director Frank Straub defended his decision to demote three high ranking officers today following his early morning presentation to the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee.
Straub said the joint investigation with IMPD and two FBI agents from outside the Indianapolis area should be complete in two to three weeks.
"By having two agents from outside the Indianapolis area, you have complete and total objectivity," said Straub.
24-Hour News 8 asked the public safety director if he and the chief of police ordered Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce and Deputy Chief Ron Hicks to leave the Bisard crash investigation to attend a meeting. He responded, "It wasn't an order to begin with. Chief Ciesielski asked them to attend a 1:00 meeting. I wasn't at the 1:00 meeting."
He went on to say, "I want to clear this up once and for all. All three gentlemen were in appointed positions, so they have no merit right to those positions. I believe, and the chief believes that they failed in their leadership and as a result of that we removed them from their positions."
But through their attorneys, the three have argued they were scapegoats, and the failure of leadership wasn't theirs, but instead the chief of police and public safety director. After all, the chief knew someone had died at the Bisard crash scene. Why wasn't the chief there?
"We had the second highest ranking police officer in the department at that scene. He shouldn't have to rely on the chief or the director of public safety to bring those resources to bear at the scene," said Straub, speaking of then Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce. Pierce was one of three officers demoted to lieutenant.
Through his attorney, Pierce insists he called the chief eight times to make him aware of the gravity of the situation.
Straub spoke at length about his new public safety department initiatives, one of which is building a new public web site that will list all police disciplinary actions and accommodations. He says complaints will be listed immediately and the resolution of those complaints will follow. The site likely won't be complete until the middle of next year. The core of his initiative is the Professional Standards Division. The division will be a broader version of the current Internal Affairs Department, encouraging greater accountability among members of the department.
As it stands Wednesday, there will be no FEMA aid for tornado survivors in Howard County.
We reached out to school systems across Central Indiana to see what their policy is for delaying or closing school when temperatures drop.
About 130 Indiana National Guard Soldiers returned home Wednesday to friends and family after nearly a year in Afghanistan.