Indianapolis police streamline complaint process

By The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis police are going to make it easier for people to file complaints against officers by allowing them to do it online while also working to streamline the investigation process.

Police officials told The Indianapolis Star the goal is to reassure the public that the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department takes allegations of officer misconduct seriously.

The department’s reputation was tarnished in recent years by the arrest of then-police officer David Bisard, who was sentenced last month to 13 years in prison after being convicted on drunken driving and other charges in the death of motorcyclist Eric Wells. The case sparked allegations of special treatment and corruption.

“This system will make it a lot easier for both officers and citizens to track the status of a complaint,” Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said. “It keeps a record for everyone, and it’s more fair to everyone, too. It’s not fair to an officer to be working so long with a complaint hanging over their head.”

The new system also requires supervisors to file grievances electronically so the records can’t be easily misplaced.

A review of the IMPD complaint process by an outside consulting firm, Altegrity Security Consulting of Falls Church, Va., in 2011, called for “radically changing the initial intake of civilian complaints.”

“The message regarding the taking of complaints is simple: take them all. Make it easy to complain,” the report read. “The entire police department should be required to take complaints.”

The Citizens’ Police Complaint Office has handled 362 complaints this year, 429 last year and 242 the year before.

Brian C. Reeder, executive director of the Citizens’ Police Complaint Office, said that this year it began making sure all complaints are funneled to the office and reviewed faster. He said better tracking of complaints and improved communications with internal affairs investigators have reduced a backlog from an average of 188 days to 90 days.

Bill Owensby, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said rank and file officers have no objection to the new approach.

“This should be a good thing for everyone,” he said. “In recent years, we’ve had trouble investigating these complaints in a timely way.”




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