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After police shooting of unarmed man, IMPD to change use-of-force policy

July 14, 2017 | Indianapolis Star |Link to Article

As tensions rise in the city following the police shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Friday announced a slew of changes — such as implicit bias training for officers and a change in the department's use-of-force policies. 

Hogsett also vowed that the investigation into Bailey's death will happen expeditiously and with "as much openness and as much transparency as due process will allow."

"If a community does not bear witness together, if it chooses to look the other way in the face of a painful past, it risks its very soul," Hogsett said.

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Bailey, 45, was shot and killed by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officers Michal P. Dinnsen and Carlton J. Howard after a chase that followed a traffic stop on the city's north side at about 2 a.m. June 29. The officers, who joined IMPD  in 2014, are on administrative leave. Neither has a disciplinary record.

 

The shooting was decried by pastors with the Indianapolis Congregation Action Network (IndyCAN) and other community leaders, who are calling for an impartial investigation. Advocacy group DON'T SLEEP called for justice in a rally last month, and at least one more rally is planned Saturday at the Indiana Statehouse, while the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration is underway Downtown.

 
 
 

Members of Indianapolis' black community wonder whether ongoing investigations into the fatal police involved shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man, will be different from past cases. Dwight Adams/IndyStar

Hogsett said the use-of-force policies will be "modernized," and the city will bring in a "diverse set of legal experts" to analyze training for new officers.

The mayor also said the implicit bias training will involve the community and police department working together to create a program that is "a first of its kind in the nation."

He described the program as a "training of the trainers," adding that IMPD and the Office of Public Health and Safety will bring in national experts who have worked with the Department of Justice to implement an implicit bias training program.

"This will not only be a program for police officers to train other police officers," Hogsett said, "but a program in which the police and community members are working together to implement these types of programs within the community."

Hogsett also announced a string of other changes including:

  • Creating a use-of-force review board to examine any incident that involves use of force with a firearm, Taser or a physical altercation.
  • Establishing an Office of Diversity and Inclusion to be embedded at IMPD's training academy.
  • Changing the department's training curriculum by bringing in a "diverse set of legal experts" to analyze the current program.
  • Reviewing the Citizens Police Complaint Board.

IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said Bailey's death represents a "national discussion that has come home."

"I've heard a lot of anger in the last couple weeks," Roach said at the news conference. "I've heard a lot of fear. Our responsibility is to diminish that anger and fear."

Fear, anger and unease have radiated through the city's black community, social justice advocates say, as they clamor for transparency in the investigation.

"People are wondering, is it safe for me if I'm stopped in a neighborhood?" said Juard Barnes, an organizer with IndyCAN. "Some people are wondering, are police my allies? Are they the peacekeepers?"

 

  

The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the fatal police shooting of Aaron Bailey, an unarmed black man, in Indianapolis on June 29, 2017. Dwight Adams/IndyStar

In addition to investigations by the IMPD and Marion County prosecutor's office into Bailey's death, the FBI is conducting a civil rights probe at IMPD's request.

After the announcement, the Rev. Jeffrey A. Johnson Sr., who leads Eastern Star Church, said he liked that IMPD is looking for outside help to supplement what the department is already doing to improve training and policies.

But he said the city still needs to address consequences for police officers when they violate laws or policies.

“There are things that are already in place, and police violate them, and nothing happens,” Johnson said. “There has to be a painful consequence for that. If you have a badge and a gun, the law is not different for you.”