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Gov. Holcomb calls for reckoning on racism in Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Gov. Eric Holcomb said Tuesday that it’s time for a reckoning on racism in Indiana.

He announced plans to fight systemic racism. Those plans include big changes for Indiana State Police.

The governor said he’s been meeting for the last few weeks with Hoosiers to talk about racism and how to best to put an end to it. From those conversations and what we’ve seen unfold over the last few months, he’s planning, in part, on closing wealth and education gaps while outfitting state police with body cameras.

Holcomb laid out the first steps of his plan during a statewide speech that followed several weeks of behind-the-scenes conversations.

“I admit, I can’t put myself in a Black person’s shoes. I can’t fully appreciate the everyday indignities and slights our friends and associates have had to deal with, let alone the fear of some things I’ve never had to think about,” he said.

The governor said he’s creating a new cabinet-level position: chief equity, inclusion and opportunity officer. The goal is to get to the root causes of systemic racism and not just react to what he calls the symptoms.

“We need to use this moment as an opportunity to forge a new, more inclusive future,” Holcomb said. “We cannot lose this opportunity to act constructively.”

In addition to body cameras for all front-line troopers by spring of next year, the state police will also have an outside organization review its policies, including the use of force.

“When you call 911, you expect a response, and we need to make sure they are trained and equipped to do so.”

The governor wants to focus on de-escalation and implicit bias training, and also wants to close what he calls the gaps in workforce training and education.

“Indiana’s new secretary of education, come January, must make it a priority to improve minority teacher recruitment and learning gap to bridge the divide between the haves and the have-nots.”

Holcomb also point out the challenges law enforcement face while acknowledging his continued support of the job they do. Another element of his plan will create a public disparity portal to show how state programs are working or not working.