Mayor calls for changes to merit board after Aaron Bailey ruling

Crime Watch 8

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Mayor Joe Hogsett said in a statement he wants see changes to the Indianapolis Civilian Police Merit Board after five of its seven members voted to reinstate two officers who shot and killed the unarmed Aaron Bailey.

The police union called the mayor’s statement “disturbing,” but at least one merit board member said changes can be positive.

“We are with him,” K.P. Singh said. “Of course, any changes to the merit board or anywhere else which reduce the number of deaths in Indianapolis, we are for it.” 

Two board members voted to fire Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Michael Dinnsen and Carlton Howard. Singh is one of five who voted to keep the officers on IMPD. 

Hogsett’s statement said he’s disappointed in the board’s decision. 

“The fact that Chief (Bryan) Roach’s experienced, well-reasoned decision to terminate two officers has been overturned by the votes of five individuals highlights a Merit Board system that must be changed..” Hogsett said in the statement. 

The mayor did not specify what changes he’d like to see. A spokesperson said he was not available for an interview Friday because he was meeting with IMPD command staff and community members. 

The board consists of seven people: four picked by former Mayor Greg Ballard, two voted in by IMPD officers, and one appointed by the City-County Council. All of their terms will expire at the end of this year. 

“If new blood really is helpful, absolutely,” Singh said.

Singh said the board looked at the evidence and he found that the officers were “carrying out what they were taught” and following IMPD’s general orders in the June 29 shooting of Bailey that followed a traffic stop. 

IMPD’s Use of Force policy states officers can use deadly force if needed to prevent a forcible felony. 

Former deputy mayor Joe Slash is one of two who voted to fire the officers. 

“There is an opportunity for some community forums to talk about this process and what the general orders of the police department allow and what they don’t allow,” Slash said. 

Police union president Rick Snyder released a statement saying Hogsett’s call for change to the Merit Board system “further shakes the confidence of our law enforcement officers….”

Some of the board members could stay past their term expiration if they are appointed again. 

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