INDIANAPOLIS -- A scathing audit of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's internal investigation process found a flawed system that's created frustration throughout the ranks.
The Indianapolis Department of Public Safety contracted with Altegrity, an outside consulting firm, to review IMPD's Professional Standards Division following a May 2011 incident in which a lieutenant made inappropriate remarks against a deputy chief.
According to the audit, a number of missteps while handling the complaint caused the matter to become "exacerbated to the point that it caused disruption within the department and brought public discredit to the IMPD as a whole," which then sparked the internal review.
The auditors said that while they found people of good faith working hard to do the right thing within IMPD, they are operating in a system that is "fundamentally defective and well outside the realm of national best practices for these critical police systems."
"What we found is significant and problematic. In many ways, the current system of managing and ensuring police accountability in the IMPD is significantly flawed, if not broken," the audit reads.
The auditors noted that frustration with the system affects employees at all levels, from rank-and-file officers who are upset with the time it takes for internal investigations to be done, to members of the Citizen Police Complaint Board, who feel they have little effect on the outcome of a case when they disagree with the department.
"While not everyone agrees on the solutions, there is a united view that the current system is broken, and we agree," the audit reads.
The audit noted that Indianapolis' system is flawed from onset because the department does not allow citizen complaints against officers.
Citizen complaints are referred to the Citizen's Police Complaint Office, which has significant restrictions on who can file a complaint and when they can file, and is a "system that can only be seen as inhibiting the filing of complaints against officers," auditors found.
The audit also noted that the Internal Affairs investigators, who are tasked with most serious complaint cases, must both investigate and judge whether the accused officer's conduct was improper, while command officers are generally left out of the process altogether.
The auditors recommended that the relationship between the merit board, the Disciplinary Board of Captains and the Citizen's Police Complaint Office and board needs to be adjusted, with the Captain Board eliminated and replaced by internal departmental processes and the CPCO's focus and processes revised.
"The recommendations will strengthen meaningful civilian review and oversight while eliminating wasteful and non-productive processes that, while purporting to provide both citizen involvement and officer due process, in fact accomplish neither," the audit reads.
Department of Public Safety Director Frank Straub said in a news release that the review provides a road map for IMPD to improve its practices.
"The report creates an opportunity to recognize environmental, policy and procedural issues, that, if properly addressed, will improve morale, enhance public trust and continue to move the IMPD toward becoming the leading police department in the Midwest," he said. "We don't move cases in a timely manner. We have investigations that go on for 12,18, 24 months."
Auditors agreed that IMPD has the personnel in place to make major changes.
"We find it most promising that everyone we spoke with was committed to putting a better system in place," the audit reads. "This is the opportune time for Indianapolis to take the necessary steps to positively impact the way its community is policed for the foreseeable future."
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