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Indianapolis official announces halt to merit board changes

May 22, 2018

The Indianapolis City-County Council president has halted plans to revamp the city's civilian police merit board in the wake of its recent vote clearing two officers of wrongdoing in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black motorist.

Vop Osili, the Democrat who heads the council, said he won't make changes to the board until "all those wanting a voice on the issue have been heard and consensus has been pursued," The Indianapolis Star reported.

Osili had proposed adding two members to the seven-person merit board and giving the council and police union more influence. The proposal would also allow mayors to make appointments to the board sooner by staggering end dates. Osili introduced the proposal this week, but then said it would serve as a placeholder "in the legislative process for those ideas from the upcoming community conversations."

Mayor Joe Hogsett urged the council to engage in a thoughtful, deliberative process when considering the changes.

Any changes to the board will be "considered and processed through the appropriate channels as they are formalized," Osili said.

Community activists and some city officials called for changes to the merit board following its May 10 decision to reinstate two Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers who fatally shot Aaron Bailey in June 2017. Bailey, 45, had tried to drive away during a routine traffic stop and crashed into a tree.

The officers said they shot Bailey after he ignored their commands to show his hands and reached into his car's center console.

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