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Following Several Incidents of Police Violence this Year, Indiana Police Departments Should Consider Oversight Boards to Help Hold Officers Accountable

July 31, 2020

After another high profile incident of police violence in Indiana this year in which Richard Bailey Jr., a Black man from Northwestern Indiana, was attacked by a police dog during an arrest by Lafayette police officers in May, local officials across Indiana should consider implementing external civilian-led oversight boards to ensure that independent investigations of uses of force are conducted and that appropriate disciplinary action is taken if police misconduct is found. Lawyers for Bailey have said he was in a medically-induced coma for days after the incident and could have been killed by the dog attack. 

In June, the greater Lafayette police agencies said they were open to discussing soliciting input from the public during police investigations into potential police misconduct or use of force in order to build trust in the community. Police departments across the state should consider similar tactics for ensuring accountability and restoring trust in the community. Specifically, external civilian-led oversight boards with the power to conduct independent investigations separate from internal investigations conducted by other police officers can determine whether uses of force were justified and ensure appropriate disciplinary action and accountability after an incidence of police violence, as  noted in Everytown’s recommendations on policing.

Such boards could help determine compliance, for instance, with Indiana law prohibiting police officers from using lethal force unless necessary to prevent serious bodily injury or death or the commission of certain felonies. 

Earlier this year, Dreasjon Reed and McHale Rose, both Black men, were shot and killed by police within an eight-hour span, in Indianapolis. Black people in the United States are far more likely to be shot and killed by law enforcement than their white counterparts, and data shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Mapping Police Violence shows that 124 people have been killed by police between 2013 and 2019 in Indiana and that 99% of killings by the police from 2013-2019 did not result in officers being charged with a crime. 

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