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2 groups join opposition of proposal to give civilians control on police oversight board

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A City-County Council committee on Tuesday night approved an ordinance to give civilians more control over policies within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, and the full council could consider it in a couple weeks.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor exclusively told News 8 on Tuesday night that he does not support Proposal 237 as written, but is in favor of civilian participation. Taylor said he would prefer a majority of “sworn” officers on the city’s police oversight board, as it is now. The proposal calls for four civilians to join three officers on the police oversight board.

Opinions came from councilors and others on Tuesday night, and more offered their views Wednesday as they learned of the committee’s action. The IMPD chief even issued a statement Wednesday:

“In the midst of a national discussion on policing and public safety, IMPD has listened as the members of our community have called for change in how we serve. And we have acted – in such ways as creating a higher standard for use of force, banning the dangerous practice of no-knock warrants, and implementing a permanent body-worn camera program. In taking these steps, we seek to build community trust and ensure fair and equal treatment under the law for every Indianapolis resident.

IMPD needs 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 continue to finalize 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 have concerns with Proposal 237 as written, but we remain dedicated to moving IMPD forward and will continue working with the City-County Council and the members of our community to improve accountability and ensure we are best serving the people of Indianapolis.”

Randal Taylor, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department chief, through a spokesperson

Leaders with the groups Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition and Peace on the Streets backed the IMPD chief on Wednesday.

The Rev. Charles Harrison of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition said he thinks the ordinance strips away power from the chief to oversee policies. He would rather see civilian participation elsewhere.

“A civilian advisory board that makes recommendations to the chief of police to implement policies that help police do a better job in policing the community. I think that’s different than what’s being proposed,” Harrison said.

“During a time where we’re seeing record-breaking violence, I just think it’s going to hurt particularly communities of color if police began to pull back because of their concerns with civilian oversight,” Harrison added.

Olgen Williams, a former deputy mayor in Indianapolis and a leader with Peace on the Streets, said, “I think it’s a bad proposal. I think if you’re going to do something like that give it another year out. Let the citizens look at it. Let’s talk with multiple groups, especially neighborhood-based organizations,” Williams said.

The full City-County Council will take up the proposal on Oct. 12.

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