Indianapolis faith leaders respond to council vote to overhaul IMPD oversight board

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The city of Indianapolis just came off the heels of a violent weekend.

“When you look at the level of violence in the city of Indianapolis, over the last six years, and each year, we seem to gradually increase, I think Indianapolis is now heading towards becoming the next Detroit or Baltimore, said the Rev. Charles Harrison, board president of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition and lead pastor of Barnes United Methodist Church.

As cities nationwide deal with violence, they’re also hearing the voices of the people. There have been local and nationwide protests against police brutality and calls for reimagined policing. Monday night, the Indianapolis City-County Council approved an ordinance that adds civilians to the group that oversees Indianapolis Metropolitan police policy.

“Man! I am so excited! That is a historic moment. This is a historic moment that we’re in right now,” said minister Nicole Barnes, the director of voter engagement for the group Faith In Indiana.

The ordinance will create a seven-member General Orders Board that would write rules that govern the IMPD — four of them would not be members of the police department. The police chief, council and mayor would each appoint two members, while the Fraternal Order of Police would appoint one member.

“When we look at accountability or the lack thereof for law enforcement, for government officials, these types of policies allow us to have some input and some insight for the safety, the inclusion, and the thriving of our communities,” Barnes explained.

But not everyone agrees with the ordinance passing.

“I’m against it. I’m against it because I think it takes away the power from the police chief,” Harrison said.

Both faith leaders said their organizations want or plan to recommend people to be on the new review board.

Both faith leaders gave News 8 an indication of who they would like to see on the new review board.

“I think we need to have moderate Democrats, I think we need to have liberal Democrats, I think we need to have someone who is conservative on the board. I think if we’re going to do this now, it ought to be reflective of the entire Indianapolis community, and there needs to be representation,” Harrison said.

“We absolutely would like to have some input on who should be on this board, and we’re hoping that it is some of those very leaders and those very pastors who have been very involved in this process,” Barnes said.

A city spokesperson tells News 8 that IMPD is reviewing the ordinance passed by the council last night and will work with stakeholders on next steps.