INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is working to improve diversity and inclusion within its own ranks. The initiative is part of an ongoing plan to improve community and police relations in the city.
Diversity and inclusion boards, task forces and so forth have been popping up all over the place in the last year. Representatives with IMPD said diversity has been a focus area for the department for a couple years now. And although there are areas where they’ve fallen short, officials said forming a new diversity and inclusion council will help them better meet the mark.
Changes are happening in police departments everywhere, including the Circle City. Diversity and inclusion efforts are entering a new phase.
“So we’re going to have officers from all walks of life be able to tell their story, to be able to relate to each other to be able to open up mines to why diversity and inclusion is important in the workspace,” said IMPD director of diversity and inclusion Capt. John Walton.
In just a few weeks, IMPD will name a group of officers to it’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. The department said the goal is that by allowing a diverse group of officers share cultural experiences with one another, the department as a whole will be able to transfer that to interactions with the public.
“We have to be patient, thick-skinned and meet people where they are and develop the relationships. The key to success of a police agency is its relationship to the community, to its citizens,” Walton said.
The department faced heavy criticism for it’s response to the summer protests and riots. And while they said they should have responded differently and will do better, it’ll take some convincing.
“Would be a great idea. And it’s a great thing to do, but if it’s just lip service, something to appease the community and make them feel as if they’re doing something it’s just a waste of everyone’s time,” said Indianapolis resident Ross Whitfield.
Whitfield said eyes are on police departments around the city and country. And as a Black man he’s watching a little more closely.
“If the true intent is there. And they are going into it listening and wanting to make changes, and concrete changes, material changes. That would be great,” said Whitfield.
Walton said seeing the change may take time. Adding that we didn’t get here overnight so it won’t change overnight. The department is still selecting the officers who’ll make up the council. It will be diverse and will meet once a month. The first meeting is April 27.