Letters and Opinion

City takes safety seriously

September 11, 2010

One of my first priorities as mayor was returning the police department to the mayor’s office. I did this because I believe protecting our neighborhoods, our businesses and our families to be the highest responsibility I bear as mayor.

Public safety is job one, and we need the support of the business community as we take decisive action to reform the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and restore public confidence in our police force.

As mayor, I do not tolerate police misconduct, the use of excessive force or corruption. I will dismiss those officers and commanders who do not share my priorities and concerns.

As part of our ongoing effort to improve IMPD, I announced the following reforms:

• Breathalyzers at the scene of vehicle accidents involving a police officer and bodily injury or property damage,

• No purchase of alcohol in uniform and no transportation of alcohol in police vehicles, and

• No alcohol consumption within eight hours of the beginning of a shift and the adoption of a Department of Public Service-wide zero-tolerance policy for alcohol in an on-duty officer’s system.

• It will be the stated duty of every officer to report suspected substance abuse or other conditions that could endanger the public or impair an officer’s ability to do his or her job.

I also support City-County Council President Ryan Vaughn and Councilor Ben Hunter’s recommendations for increased education requirements for officers, professional accreditation of IMPD by 2014, and reporting incidents online.

Finally, I look forward to the final report of the Public Safety Personnel Diversity Task Force, which I created last year.

Our crime-reduction strategies are working. This summer we had the lowest number of homicides in the past 20 years. In 2006, we had 47 homicides during the summer; this year we had 17. Violent crime overall is down more than 13 percent for 2010.

Make no mistake, the vast majority of the 1,700 officers who wear the IMPD uniform never make the headlines—unless it’s because of an act of bravery or they’ve made the ultimate sacrifice.

Nonetheless, this is a painful chapter for our city and our police department. We will not heal overnight. Much work is left to be done before they regain your trust. I know this and our police officers know this.

Policing is a tough and stressful job. Our officers deal with nightmares every day—other people’s and their own—and we need to offer them all the help we can.

We must never forget the tragic death of Eric Wells and the devastating injuries suffered by his friends on that August morning. Let’s work together to make this tragedy mean something more—a better police force and a safer Indianapolis.

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Mayor Greg Ballard

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