INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Proposed legislation from two state senators would put a governor-appointed commission in charge of the state’s largest law-enforcement agency: the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
State Sen. Jack Sandlin, an Indianapolis Republican who is also a former Indianapolis police officer, said he introduced the legislation after seeing the destruction caused by the riots in late May.
In his words, dramatic action is needed to change the course of Indianapolis. “The state of Indiana and the city of Indianapolis have a tremendous investment, particularly in our downtown area.”
When the city was in the middle of social and political turmoil last spring, Sandlin’s phone started to ring. Sandlin says the inaction from the office of Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to move police into action during the riots helped spur the legislation by him and Sen. Scott Baldwin, a Noblesville Republican.
Sandlin said, “Unless we do something to change the narrative, you know, the fear is that we will continue to go backward. We go backward we are going to be back to the 1970s.”
The proposed bill calls for a five-member state board of police commissioners. Four members would be appointed by the governor, and the sitting mayor of Indianapolis would be the fifth member.
If lawmakers pass the bill, it would be the first state board of police commissioners to run a police department in Indiana. The commissioners would assign or appoint a police chief, and the chief would answer only to the commissioners and would be responsible for the daily operation of the department.
Sandlin said, “Oh, yeah, sure, I’ve had pushback and I hate it that we’re in the position, but, at the same time, you know, with the calls for some bold action, are we going to give our taxpayer investment in Indianapolis?”
The state senator said the city has experienced a 43% increase in homicides from 2019 to 2020, and that’s caused a ripple-down effect. Some people are staying away from the downtown, and their tax dollars are not being pumped into the area.
“I’m talking to people both in Indianapolis and the suburbs that do not want to be in Indianapolis because of the violence,” Sandlin said.
Sandlin says he is open to suggestions on how to move the city forward and stop the violence. The proposed legislation has not been assigned to a committee.
“There have been a number of bills proposed ahead of the 2021 state legislative session. While it’s still early in the process, we look forward to reviewing them and working with the General Assembly on important issues facing Marion County.”From spokesperson in the office of Mayor Joe Hogsett