Crime Watch 8

Police union leader calls Indy riot report a cover-up of city leaders’ shortcomings

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The leader of the Indianapolis police union on Wednesday called an independent report of the police response to the spring downtown riots a “cover-up.”

Rick Snyder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police No. 86, says the report is an inaccurate representation of what happened on that weekend in May and that the blame for the damage and violence should not be put on police.

Snyder says the report citing poor communication, lack of training, and preparedness is correct but not when speaking about police. He claims calls made on the nights of Friday, May 29, and Saturday, May 30, by city leaders that led to the riots reaching a point of no return.

The independent report looking into Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s riot response says its approach prompted the protests to turn violent and that their actions after things started to get out of hand was not well-managed or well-executed.

“Our police officers feel like they were absolutely thrown under the bus by the political structure in the city and that this was simply to generate political cover for the people who made poor decisions or who failed to make any decisions at all,” Snyder told News 8.

Snyder says the blame for the response shouldn’t be on police. The report “said that the police officers were unprepared, undertrained, and lack communication. What the true facts are of what occurred is the ones that were unprepared, undertrained, and lacking communication were the politicians and the decision makers not the police officers.”

Snyder calls IMPD one of the most highly trained police forces in the country. Officers are cited in the report as saying they felt they weren’t prepared and that their was no clear direction given.

“What was written in that report really is a very myopic view and in many instances is not only not what the person said but in some instances the complete opposite of what they said,” Snyder said.

The report says officers were told to stand down and allow the crowds to congregate at at Monument Circle, which Snyder says resulted in a riotous and violent situation.

“The problem wasn’t the training. The problem was not that we were overwhelmed. It was that our well-trained, well-qualified officers were ordered to stand down, work from a compromised posture,” Snyder said.

The report specifically mentions officers dressed in “riot gear” as a contributing factor to the violent behavior in the crowd over the weekend. “OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) regulations mandate that in that scenario our officers are required to wear that equipment,” Snyder said.

Snyder says the changes on Sunday, June 1, that he feels made the biggest impact in preventing another night of violence was the curfew and other restrictions, all things he says should have been done earlier in the weekend to prevent the riots in the first place.

Statement from Mayor Joe Hogsett

“During the weekend of May 29 through June 1, 2020, Indianapolis experienced one of the most significant events in the city’s history. As the murder of George Floyd led to sadness, anger, and turmoil across the country, Indianapolis witnessed unprecedented mass protests in support of racial justice. However, in this same moment, as emotions rose and tensions climbed, Indianapolis also experienced instances of rioting, looting, and violence. In the days following, it was clear we needed to understand more about the factors that contributed to such an event, about the response of law enforcement to the crisis, and about what Indianapolis could do different and better in the future. As a result, on June 22, 2020, I called for an independent review to ‘look at evidence relating to the law enforcement response over the timeframe, evaluating officer adherence to departmental policies and providing recommendations on future police action.’

Today, the panel’s released report does just that. I want to thank the members of the review committee for their work, skill, and expertise in producing this report. The report is thorough, critical, and offers a series of recommendations rooted in best practices that offer our City and IMPD a roadmap moving forward.

Since those days in late May and early June, IMPD has made a series of substantial changes, including reforms to IMPD’s Use of Force policy, the creation of a Use of Force Review Board, civilian additions to the General Orders Board, and operational changes to the department’s response to large-scale gatherings. These adjustments have been consequential, and Indianapolis has seen over 150 protests without similar incident since June 1. However, our work will not stop. IMPD will continue to adapt and improve its policies and practices to best serve the needs of Indianapolis, leading through transparency and community-led, community-engaged policing. We value the conclusions made by this report, respect the tremendous amount of work that went into this important document, and will work to implement the recommendations.”

Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett