Indianapolis Urban League

Mayor Hogesst & IMPD: Rollout of Body Worn Cameras, Creation of use of Force Review Board, and Use of Force Policy Update

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May 12, 2020

Mayor Hogsett, IMPD provide an update on policing reforms

Use of Force Review Board, body worn cameras seek to improve transparency and accountability

INDIANAPOLIS – May 12, 2020, Mayor Joe Hogsett was joined by Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) Chief Randal Taylor and President Vop Osili to provide updates on several changes designed to strengthen trust between IMPD and the community, as well as increase transparency in the policing process.

“Every resident of Indianapolis should feel they can depend on our police to protect and serve residents equally under the law,” said Mayor Hogsett. “And our commitment to accountability and transparency will protect good policing as much as it helps uncover abuses should they occur.”

Rollout of body worn cameras

Last year, IMPD conducted a second pilot program to guide implementation of body worn cameras on the department. In the five years since a 2014 pilot did not result in the development of a permanent program, vendor offerings had increased, the City had invested millions of dollars in upgrading public safety technology infrastructure, and body worn camera products had advanced, significantly driving down costs. The second, larger pilot was stakeholder-driven and included a community-facing survey administered by IUPUI, a series of in-person community meetings, and a technology trial on the busiest shift on the largest IMPD districts.

Through this trial process, the ability for decentralized uploading of body worn camera footage as well as the availability of automated recording triggers, which turn the cameras on in certain situations, were identified as priority characteristics for the technology. As a result, Utility has been selected as the preferred vendor for the IMPD body worn camera program.

Following the conclusion of the pilot, Mayor Hogsett and the City-County Council included $1.2 million in the 2020 City-County Budget to fund the rollout of a body worn camera program in the second half of the year. Implementation of the program will begin in Quarter 3 of this year, with a goal to outfit 100 officers with the technology per week. The department continues to analyze national best practices and incorporate these with feedback from the pilot program to finalize a body worn camera policy for IMPD that maximizes the benefits of the technology for both officers and the public. A final policy will be made available to the public before rollout of the technology to officers begins.

Creation of the Use of Force Review Board

The Use of Force Review Board will have authority to review uses of force by IMPD officers, whether a physical altercation, deployment of a taser, or use of a firearm. The board will be made up of merit-ranked officers as well as civilian members appointed by the Chief of Police, including one nominated by the Mayor of Indianapolis, one nominated by the President of the City-County Council, and one nominated by members of the department. Prior to appointment, civilian members will be required to complete training that covers use of force, IMPD general orders, applicable Merit Laws, and ride-alongs. Continuing education will also be required. Civilian appointees will be voting members and will have full authority to participate in hearings.

Similar to the existing Firearms Review Board, and consistent with the Merit Law, the Use of Force Review Board will not have the authority to recommend discipline but will instead make an advisory finding which will be limited to determining whether the officer’s actions were within departmental policy. As it will be replacing the Firearms Review Board, the Use of Force Review Board will conduct a mandatory hearing for any use of deadly force against a person. Following the findings of the Board, the Chief of Police will have final authority to recommend discipline, subject to the oversight of the Civilian Police Merit Board. This proposal will go before the IMPD General Orders Committee in the next 15 days.

Use of Force Policy Update

IMPD’s Policy and Planning Division has been working over the last two years with legal experts to craft an updated use of force policy that incorporates national best practices as well as the local legal framework. As part of this process, visual documents for learning have been created and incorporated directly into the policy, and an updated training curriculum will be deployed at the training academy. The updated policy is expected to go before the IMPD General Orders Committee in the next 30 days.