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Report: Police, community lack trust in each other

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - A new report shows there's a lack of trust between police and the Indianapolis community. 

It's a report put together by Indiana University Purdue University-Indianapolis in the wake of the first police-community forum, which is part of a series of conversations about how to improve the relationship.

City-County Council President Vop Osili said Wednesday that while it does not apply to everyone, the information indicated a lot of people feel a strain on the relationship, and the trust is lacking on both sides.

Osili was one of the City-County councilors calling for these meetings in the wake of the shooting of Aaron Bailey. Bailey, who was black, was unarmed when he was shot and killed by two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers in June 2017. Tensions flared and shined a light on police-community relations. When the merit board ruled that the two officers who shot Bailey should be allowed to go back to work, the decision led to these meetings being scheduled. 

The first meeting was in late May. Members from IUPUI took notes as people had an open, honest conversation. They created a report, which Osili discussed Wednesday.

He said trust was an issue police and the public talked about extensively. 

"I'm being tagged with a broad brush. How do you look at me as a human versus an encounter?" he said describing the strain. "And how do we break down that role of distrust?"

Two suggestions from the community stood out to Osili: a desire for rank-and-file officers to get implicit bias and mental health training. He called it sensitivity training. 

"So, we have an intention now of how to get that funding so in the 2019 budget it is in there and we can move forward with those things," he said when asked about any possible council action.

But, some things cannot be fixed with action by the City-County Council.

"Respect is earned when you show it," he said.

It is something Osili said the report indicates is missing right now from the relationship.

"I think it's also important that we also look at how to bring folks to the table who have the same goals and missions," he said.

Osili said this report is part of a blueprint that he hopes will crystalize as the forums continue on what it will take to improve this vital relationship. 

There are three more meetings set for the rest of the year. 

Osili said this change will happen over time and cannot happen overnight. He said he hopes similar reports after each forum will continue to show what specifically needs improving in the relationship.

When asked what can be done to help in the short term during police-community interactions, Osili said continuing to have honest dialogue about what are positive and negative interactions. 

Osili said they surveyed how confident people at the first forum are that this initiative can create change. In total, 30 percent said they're hopeful. Another 40 percent said they are unsure. The final 30 percent said they don't think anything will change. 

When asked if the final number concerns him, Osili said he's focused on the 70 percent that he feels he can convince.

The next meeting is set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. July 28 at the Tindley School, 3960 Meadows Drive. 

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