ANOTHER OPINION: Police should read new state report | Opinion

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To become certified as a law enforcement officer in Indiana, officers must complete basic training within one year of being appointed to an agency.

Education requirements, such as lesson plans and course materials, are determined by law enforcement academies, which include six satellite sites in the state.

There should be a consistent approach to training, recommend the authors of a third-party study, commissioned by Governor Eric Holcomb and prepared by consultants Hillard Heintze, to evaluate the curriculum and training of law enforcement agencies in state level. This is a necessary and revealing toll following the tragic death in 2020 of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer.

One of the state-level agencies, the Indiana Gaming Commission, which monitors casino activity, revised the use of force policies after Floyd’s death. However, there is no timeline for a formal ongoing review of the policies.

Gaming commission agents and supervisors place hiring more agents on purchasing body-worn cameras, a “common theme” among other agencies, although police in the State of Indiana is in the process of purchasing cameras. Holcomb issued a warrant that every frontline state officer use a body camera.

ALMOST THROUGH THE BOARD, reviewed agencies are invited to assess policies in light of current trends, societal changes and proven best practices.

With that in mind, most of the recommendations for each agency in the 100-page report deal with the use of force. Police de-escalation and prejudice deterrence training is also recommended.

The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Council is urged to ensure that academies teach recruits the same content, especially on use of force issues and materials. “It is not enough to offer a course with the same title and the same number of teaching hours,” write the authors.

Even the State of Indiana Excise Police, which have a “limited number” of use of force incidents, are under scrutiny. However, the excise police service carried out “rapid and decisive” revisions in 2020. Strangulations are prohibited, as are vascular obstacles to the neck. Police excise policy does not include de-escalation requirements, which the report said is “widely recognized as best practice to reduce and limit the use of force.”

THE POLICE MUST ALSO BE TRAINED in treating people in mental health crisis, including culturally appropriate responses and exercises focusing on intervention techniques and tactics, the researchers urged.

The report only assesses state-level agencies, not county, city, or town agencies.

Still, every law enforcement official or anyone involved in the judicial process in the state should be encouraged to read the report, and not just to seek out new specific training procedures. In a broader scope, the report provides a clearer, cohesive and long overdue way of thinking about law enforcement.

Herald-Bulletin, Anderson


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