Indianapolis councilors support changing police policy committee; police union concerned

A majority of the Indianapolis City-County Council are supporting adding civilians to the policy-creating committee for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, a change to the department’s General Orders Committee that the police union sees as an attempt to strip legal authority from the chief. 

The proposal, which will be formally introduced to the heavily Democratic council Monday night, would change the makeup of the General Orders Committee that adopts department directives and policies for a variety of police procedures — such as investigations, searches, seizures and arrests. 

The current committee, outlined in the contract with the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, consists of two members appointed by the chief and one member by the union. 

The proposed committee would have two members appointed by the chief, one member elected from a majority of active department members and four civilians — two appointed by the mayor and two by the city-county council president. 

Civilian members and their immediate family cannot be a current or former IMPD employee.

Center, Indianapolis City-County Council member Crista Carlino talks about a proposal that would add more civilian oversight to IMPD policy-making during a press conference outside the City-County Building in Indianapolis on Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. According to Carlino and fellow council member Keith Potts, a total of 17 councilors have signed on to be co-sponsors of the proposal.

Faith leaders stood outside of the City-County Building ahead of the proposal’s introduction Monday afternoon urging the community to support the effort. 

“Police can no longer be allowed to govern themselves with unchecked influence within each of the three branches of government,” said Pastor Richard Reynolds of New Revelation Christian Church. “This has never been right, and it is no longer acceptable. The time to change is right now.”

But in a statement, the FOP said it is concerning that some councilors want to strip the legal authority of the chief to establish policy for the department.

“Such a proposal leaves the policies of the police department up to a politically appointed group,” the statement reads, “thereby allowing elected officials to bypass their responsibilities for the safety of our community.”

The union said it always welcomes civilian engagement in providing community perspectives for formulating policies.

“This would be an excellent opportunity to create a Civilian Advisory Board for IMPD General Orders,” the statement reads. 

Council members Crista Carlino and Keith Potts said a total of 17 councilors have signed on to be co-sponsors of the proposal. 

This story will be updated. 

Call IndyStar reporter Amelia Pak-Harvey at 317-444-6175 or email her at apakharvey@indystar.com. Follow her on Twitter @AmeliaPakHarvey.