Indiana News

Bipartisan bill for Indiana police reform headed to governor’s desk

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A bipartisan bill aimed at increasing police accountability and enacting criminal justice reform will be headed to the governor’s desk for his approval after the Indiana Senate unanimously passed the measure Tuesday.

House Bill 1006, passed unanimously by the Indiana House in February, includes provisions for mandatory de-escalation training, misdemeanor penalties for officers who turn off body cameras with intent to conceal, and bans on chokeholds in certain circumstances.

If signed into law by the governor, the bill will also establish a procedure for the law enforcement training board to decertify officers who commit misconduct, and would ease the sharing of employment records between police departments, thus helping to stop “wandering officers” from moving jobs.

The bill on Tuesday afternoon was awaiting the signature of Speaker of the House Todd Huston before advancing to Gov. Eric Holcomb, according to Statehouse legislation sources contacted by News 8 by phone.

“It’s historic,” said state Rep. Greg Steuerwald, a Republican from Avon, in January to News 8.

Steuerwald spent six months conversing with law-enforcement agencies before writing the measure. It would require a state law-enforcement training board to establish mandatory de-escalation training guidelines.

The chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, state Rep. Robin Shackleford, co-authored the bill.

Indiana State Police Lt. Brad Hoffeditz, the agency’s legislative director, said in January, “This bill basically standardizes everything state police is already doing. We already do de-escalation training. That will be incorporated in. We’re making sure that our program basically is going to hit all the requirements that the bill would have.”

The measure also includes $70 million to upgrade the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, a nearly 50-year-old training facility.

The measure does not include money for police agencies to buy body cameras.

Statements

“This is a win for the IBLC (Indiana Black Legislative Caucus), Senate Democrats, Hoosiers and Indiana as a whole. This past year, the injustice and inequality that continue to persist in our nation was on full display. In response, we saw people across the nation and world speaking out and demanding change, and Hoosiers were among them. This summer, the IBLC met with thousands of residents, activists and law enforcement officers across the state to hear their thoughts on police reform, and the provisions included in HB 1006 were overwhelmingly supported.

“It’s encouraging to see this bill make it through the legislature with bipartisan support. HB 1006 is a testament to what we can do when we work together in the best interest of Hoosiers instead of politics. This is good public policy that will save lives, and is a step in the right direction in our efforts to address police reform. Over the years, Senate Democrats have been persistent in calling for reform in the area of law enforcement relations with the community, and we’re happy to see this proposal on its way to becoming law. We will continue fighting to address the issues that exist in our criminal justice system and we’re excited about the progress we’ve made here today with HB 1006.” 

Rep. Greg Taylor, a Democrat from Indianapolis

“I’m extremely pleased with the advancement of this bill and the overwhelming bipartisan support it has received. HB 1006 was drafted directly from the demands of Hoosiers and was a priority for the IBLC this year. Last year, we saw a series of racially charged incidents where law enforcement officers engaged in improper and harmful behavior towards members of the Black community. Following the events and protests of last year, we knew that this was the year to see progress in addressing some of the issues in our criminal justice system.

“Over the summer, the IBLC held multiple town halls where we met with community members, law enforcement officers, faith leaders and activists to discuss police reform legislation that they wanted to see this year. I’m pleased that we were able to incorporate so many of their requests into HB 1006, and that this body was able to work in a collaborative and bipartisan fashion on this effort. The fact that we were able to move this bill through the General Assembly with so much support on both sides of the aisle was truly incredible to see, and I look forward to this bill advancing to the governor’s desk. 

“I also want to commend Rep. Steuerwald, Rep. Shackelford, and Sen. Young for their incredible work on this bill. This is a historic piece of legislation and is a good first step in beginning to address and improve relations with law enforcement. As a Black man in Indiana, seeing this proposal pass with overwhelming unanimous support gives me hope for our future, and I will continue supporting and fighting for legislation that works to improve our criminal justice system.”

Sen. Eddie Melton, a Democrat from Gary

“The Black Lives Matter Movement last summer sparked an important conversation about why Indiana must do everything possible to deliver equitable opportunities for our families, including Black and Brown Hoosiers. The Indiana Black Legislative Caucus put this talk into action by passing House Bill 1006, and through their hard work and leadership on this effort, Indiana has now begun the process of leveling the playing field for all Hoosiers, and not just a few. There’s more work to be accomplished, but this moment is yet another reminder that when Hoosiers elect Democrats, stuff gets done.” 

John Zody, chairman of Indiana Democratic Party

“The overwhelming, bipartisan support of this legislation is a testament to all of the hard work involved to bring stakeholders to the table and find common ground. It’s the product of years-long work and collaboration among a bipartisan group of state policymakers, and local and state police departments – and our communities will be better served because of it. Other states are using this legislation as a blueprint and following Indiana’s lead in implementing innovative solutions to further support local law enforcement, and boost accountability and transparency in policing. Now it’s in the governor’s hands to take across the finish line.”

Rep. Greg Steuerwald, a Republican from Avon

MORE STORIES