To become certified as a law enforcement officer in Indiana, officers must undergo basic training within one year of their appointment to an agency.
Training 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 Gov. Eric Holcomb and prepared by Hillard Heintze consultants, to assess curriculum and training for state-level law enforcement agencies. It is a necessary, and eye-opening, review 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 use-of-force policies after Floyd’s death. However, there is no schedule for a formal ongoing review of policies.
Gaming commission officers and supervisors put the hiring of more officers over the purchase of body-worn cameras, a “common theme” among other agencies, although Indiana State Police are set to purchase cameras. Holcomb has issued a mandate that every frontline state officer use a body camera.
Nearly across the board, the agencies reviewed are asked to evaluate policies in light of current trends, societal changes and proven best practices.
In that light, most recommendations for each agency in the 100-page report address use-of-force. Also recommended is training in de-escalation and deterring police bias.
The Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board is asked to ensure that academies teach the same content to recruits, particularly in use-of-force issues and materials. “It is not enough simply to offer a course with the same title and number of hours of instruction,” write the authors.
Even the Indiana State Excise Police, which has a “limited number” of use-of-force incidents, is reviewed. Yet, the excise police agency made “quick and decisive” revisions in 2020. Chokeholds are prohibited, as are vascular neck restraints. The excise police policy does not include requirements for de-escalation, which, the report states, is “widely recognized as a best practice to reduce and limit the need for the use of force.”
Police should also be trained in addressing people in a mental health crisis, including culturally appropriate responses and exercises addressing response techniques and tactics, urged the researchers.
The report evaluates only state-level agencies, not county, city or town agencies.
Yet every law enforcement officer or anyone in the judicial process in the state should be encouraged to read the report, not just to look for specific new training procedures. In a wider scope, the report provides a clearer, consistent and long-overdue way of thinking about law enforcement.
The Anderson Herald Bulletin