Just one month after being named acting chief, Chris Bailey was sworn in on Monday as the permanent chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
The 25-year veteran initially removed himself from the selection process to succeed his former superior, IMPD Chief Randal Taylor, due to a desire to be more available to his wife and three children. His daughter and younger son are involved in sports and clubs, while his oldest is “working his way into the world,” Bailey said Monday.
“I didn’t want to be the kind of father who didn’t show up to those things,” Bailey told reporters. “I didn’t want all those responsibilities to fall squarely on my wife’s shoulders, and I didn’t want my family to feel the burden that comes with me serving in a high-profile position.”
Bailey was named the interim leader Jan. 10. He decided to put himself back into consideration after a conversation with his 15-year-old daughter during a recent road trip, he told reporters.
“Wise beyond her years, she reminded me that the best way I can show up for her as a parent is to show up for my whole community,” Bailey said, joking before that he “shouldn’t have turned around” to see his daughter wipe away tears.
When Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett appointed Bailey the interim leader of the department, he requested Bailey focus on working with local criminal justice experts to address a shortage of officers and an increase in the frequency of officer-involved shootings.
At his swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Bailey also announced the appointment of two new assistant chiefs to lead the department.
Assistant Chief Catherine Cummings, formerly deputy chief of training, policy and oversight, will oversee the execution of IMPD’s first strategic plan and will be responsible for building the programs and structure that prepare the department to tackle future public safety challenges. This includes the community engagement bureau, recruitment and retention, and a new office of technology.
Assistant Chief Michael Wolley, formerly deputy chief of operations, will be tasked with preventing and addressing violence in neighborhoods while overseeing both the operations and investigations divisions of IMPD.
Previously, Bailey was the only assistant chief of the department.
Bailey said more organizational changes and leadership changes will be announced over the next few weeks.
“Together IMPDs new command staff will ensure the department remains nimble and forward-thinking, prepared to take on the public safety challenges of the future, while remaining laser-focused on the ongoing and successful violence reduction efforts that are creating a safer Indianapolis for every resident in every neighborhood,” Hogsett said.
Bailey is also tasked with finding a research partner to evaluate Indianapolis’ increase in officer-involved-shootings, a process he said at a January media briefing would likely take at least a year.
Bailey served as assistant chief of police for the last four years. He worked with Taylor and community leaders to reform some of the department’s most critical policies, including use of force, body-worn cameras, and vehicle pursuit policies, as well as to establish a civilian-majority Use of Force Review Board and General Orders Board for the first time in the department’s history.
Taylor, chief of IMPD for nearly 4 years, announced Dec. 15 his plans to step down to a different role within the department by the end of the year.
Bailey takes on the role at a difficult time for the department, which faces a staff shortage and questions about a rash of police-involved shootings.
With just over 1,500 police officers, the department is about 300 shy of its budgeted staffing level. The city budget includes 1,743 officers, and the Hogsett administration has allocated American Rescue Plan Act dollars for another 100 salaries.
Last year, the city saw a near-record 18 police-involved shootings. According to the department’s September budget presentation, there were 20 officer-involved shootings in 2015.