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State challenges decision that Marion County Sheriff’s Office is ‘law enforcement’

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The state has appealed a court’s decision that requires the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy to treat the Marion County Sheriff’s Office like the state’s 91 other sheriff’s offices — as a law enforcement agency.

A judge last month ruled in favor of Sheriff Kerry Forestal, who in 2021 sued the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board for refusing to accept his deputies for training at the academy.

“In an era where some suggest ‘defund the police,’ I had to go to court to sue in order to make certain that Marion County Sheriff’s deputies were properly trained according to state law,” Forestal said in a release Tuesday.

“It appears that the state training board wants to eliminate law enforcement officers in the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. The Marion County Court judges made it very clear that they want trained deputies in their courthouse, not unarmed guards, after recent incidents at the Community Justice Center.”

The training is required to meet new standards under a police reform bill passed by the Indiana General Assembly in 2021.

The state training board maintains that the sheriff’s office is not an actual law enforcement agency because its duties shifted after consolidation with the Indianapolis Police Department in 2007.

A court order issued on Feb. 27 requires the academy to accept up to 20 Marion County deputies per year for training.

There is no timeline for when the appeals court might hear the case or issue an opinion.