Sunday, July 20, 2008
Department tries to fix its image after officer arrests'
Narcotics detectives ripping off drug dealers. A police officer selling a gun to a felon informant. Another officer helping his wife run an illegal escort service.
In the past four months, criminal misconduct allegations have been leveled against a half-dozen Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.
Now, the department is grappling with the fallout -- which includes the dismissal of at least 20 court cases involving the officers -- and is trying, with Mayor Greg Ballard, to determine what changes are needed to prevent such misconduct in the future.
IMPD brass took the first public step in answering that question Thursday with the unveiling of a new "integrity plan."
The plan calls for increasing supervision, tightening oversight of evidence collection, reinstating more widespread polygraph testing of officers, creating a department recruiter position and instituting mandatory performance evaluations.
Some of these provisions boost informal practices to department law. Other changes were in the works for months, IMPD Chief Michael Spears said. A few came in direct response to the scandals that have shaken the department.
All are aimed at rebuilding community trust.
"We won't hesitate to use these measures that we announce today and others to make sure the bad apples are plucked out and tossed aside," Public Safety Director Scott Newman said in a statement.
Legal observers and community leaders reacted favorably Thursday, saying the plan was a good one -- but that some provisions should have been in effect long ago.
"This is a move toward a more professional and efficient police department," said longtime legal observer Henry Karlson, a professor of criminal law at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis. "A good move. . . . Bureaucratically speaking, this is warp 7." [Mark Godsey]