Earlier this month a citizen merit board voted not to fire two IMPD officers who shot and killed an unarmed man last year. At the Indianapolis City-County Council meeting Monday night, President Vop Osili introduced a proposal to make changes to the board.
As written it would add two members to the merit board – one chosen by the council and one by active members of IMPD. It would also stagger term end dates.
But Osili said in a statement sent shortly before the meeting that the proposal is only a template, meant to start a conversation in the legislature.
Satchuel Cole, vice president of Don't Sleep, says drafting the proposal with those details, and before talking to the community, was unacceptable.
"You already drafted your proposal on what should happen," Cole says. "So it’s not a formality. If it’s a formality, undo the formality and wait until you’ve had these conversations.”
Osili says it’s a formality necessary to start the council’s legislative process, not an attempt to exclude other voices.
“You can’t put a proposal out without some sense of direction," Osili says. "But it cannot lead the community conversations.”
Members of Don't Sleep also voiced concern about the proposal's inclusion of a new merit board member elected by members of the police department, something they argue would introduce bias into what is ideally a neutral group.
Osili says the change is necessary because state law mandates 30 percent of the board's members be represented by the police.
Osili says the council plans to hold community meetings to discuss potential changes to the merit board. And he says that input will be a crucial part of the council’s final decision.