ACLU calls on Hogsett to reduce funding for police in Indianapolis

The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana is calling on Mayor Joe Hogsett to “reimagine” the role of police in Indianapolis and shift funding away from law enforcement into community-based initiatives.

The ACLU on Tuesday issued a written statement that said Indianapolis “must stop trying to tweak a rotten system whose roots are riddled with racism.”

The group said a revised use-of-force policy endorsed last week by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Randal Taylor is not enough to bring fundamental change to law enforcement in the city.

The revised policy would ban chokeholds, mandate a duty to intervene and report whenever another officer uses inappropriate force, and prohibit shooting from a moving vehicle, among other things.

“Mayor Hogsett must commit to reimagining the role police play in our city, and that role has to be smaller, more circumscribed, and less funded with taxpayer dollars,” Jane Henegar, executive director at the ALCU of Indiana, said in written comments. “IMPD’s budget makes up more than 30% of the city’s budget. As Mayor Hogsett works with the city council to begin the 2021 budget process, we must shift resources away from law enforcement and towards Black and Brown community-based initiatives that support true safety, health, and well-being.

“Budgets are not created in a vacuum,” Henegar added. “They can be changed through targeted advocacy and organizing. We can demand that our local officials, including city council members and mayors, stop allocating funds for more officers and more militarized equipment.”

Across the country, there have been calls to defund and disband police departments following nationwide protests after George Floyd, a black man, died while being restrained by a Minneapolis police officer who has since been charged with second-degree murder.

Over the weekend, the Minneapolis City Council announced its intent to defund and disband the city’s police department.

Supporters of the “Defund the Police” movement say their goal isn’t to eliminate police departments or strip law enforcement agencies of all of their money. They say it is time for the country to address systemic problems in policing in America and spend more on community needs such as housing, education and mental health.

The ACLU said Hogsett’s proposal to reform IMPD’s use-of-force policy is a critical component, but that a “few trainings and updates to IMPD’s polices just won’t cut it.”

“Indianapolis is hurting,” Henegar said. “We must stop trying to tweak a rotten system whose roots are riddled with racism. We can only start real change with a bold and shared reimagining of law enforcement policies, practices, and cultures.”

A spokeswoman for Hogsett did not immediately respond to request for comment from the Indianapolis Business Journal. 

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