Sheriff Frank Anderson (D), who oversees the newly-merged Indianpolis Metropolitan Police Department told the Star's Vic Ryckaert " he saw nothing wrong with the report change." Mayor Bart Peterson said of Anderson, "I'm sure he would rectify the situation." Describing the arrest which took place, Ryckaert writes:
The situation involves the Feb. 2 arrest of Lance Howard on accusations that he ran a "pea-shake house" known as Gypsy's Paradise, 1410 W. Roache St. Prosecutors on Thursday charged Howard, 46, with three gambling-related crimes -- two felonies and a misdemeanor.
Pea-shake houses are gambling businesses that offer games in which customers pay for numbers or tickets they hope are winners.
Lance Howard is not related to Glenn Howard, an Indianapolis Democrat, but the senator told The Indianapolis Star he has known Lance Howard's family for years . . .
Patrolman Julian C. Wilkerson, a neighborhood resource officer who joined the department in February 2001, was the arresting officer in the pea-shake case. He said he was responding to complaints about loitering, drunkenness and recent gunfire at the house when he and four other officers stopped there Feb. 2, according to his report.
Wilkerson and the other officers entered the Near-Westside house and confiscated three guns and more than $5,000 in cash. He said the senator stopped him outside.
"While gathering evidence and transporting the evidence to my patrol vehicle," Wilkerson wrote, "I was approached by Indiana Democrat State Senator (Glenn) Howard, who stated, 'They don't hurt nobody, it's just pea-shake.' He then added, 'I know it's illegal, but they don't hurt anybody.' "Howard said he was in an American Legion post at 25th and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. streets when someone came in and said several squad cars were at the house.
Howard told The Star he went to the house to see what was going on. "Black folks play pea-shakes. That's their game. White folks play bingo. . . . If they're going to put black folks in jail, put whites in jail, too."
Howard said he never asked to have his name removed from the report.
Maj. Paul Ciesielski, commander of the Metropolitan Northwest District, also went to the house the night of the raid. The house is in his district.
Ciesielski said that after seeing the initial report, he counseled Wilkerson to avoid including information not relevant to the arrest in official documents. He said he never ordered Wilkerson to take the information out and that Wilkerson decided on his own to remove those lines.
"The fact that he (Sen. Howard) was there had nothing to do with us or our investigation," Ciesielski said. "His presence did not affect our enforcement that night."
The Star obtained a copy of the original report before the second version was created. Spears said removing information from reports happens "infrequently," typically to correct mistakes. He insisted that no one pressured his department to leave Glenn Howard's name out of the paperwork.
"In hindsight, it would have been best for the officer to leave the report the way it was to begin with," Spears said.
Wilkerson declined to comment.
Anderson said he has full confidence in his officers and their supervisors.
"As far as I can tell, everybody did what they were supposed to do," Anderson said. "Nobody told this officer to take anything out of the report. I could see nothing that was done wrong."
You can bet the police officer who filed the original police report altered his report to remove the comment by Sen. Howard at the insistence from the people atop who've been protecting these illegal gambling operations for years. I'm curious why the Star didn't ask Sen. Howard how he could be in two places at one time. It was the Star afterall who reported earlier this week that Howard was one of 45 legislators purchasing tickets from the Colts to attend last weekend's Super Bowl game in Miami. Legislators purchased the tickets with the understanding they couldn't be resold or gifted to someone else. As for Howard's comments that white folks play bingo so they should be arrested as well, let's be clear that bingo games are state-regulated and licensed charitable events. As a state legislator, Howard should know that. But he would rather play the race card as he always does to cover up his own culture of corruption.
The Star's political columnist Matt Tully sees Howard's interference as an abuse of power which warrants an investigation. Tully writes:
Just like City-County Council President Monroe Gray Jr. before him, state Sen. Glenn Howard showed off his arrogance . . .
In the case of Howard, his posturing was a glaring example of the arrogance of power -- the kind of tired, deep-seated arrogance that comes to politicians who know their offices are theirs to use and abuse. They know that because gerrymandering and partisan politics ensure they will never be defeated.
Howard knows it. That's probably why he smiled constantly Thursday as I asked him about his meddling ways.
But the longtime Democratic senator is not the only one who looks bad. The newly formed Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is looking at its first public relations mess. The department not only looks bad, it looks like it's in need of an investigation. Because someone needs to better explain why there are two versions of a police report detailing the gambling house bust . . .
But it is clear officials in Marion County have long been hesitant to bust pea-shake houses. And it is clear many politicians, such as Howard and Gray, call the gambling houses cultural fixtures in the black community and criticize any enforcement of them.
Tully hits the nail on the head with this one. We've seen it all before. I don't expect much will come of it. Local elected prosecutors never have the courage to do what's right and put the people really behind these illegal operations behind bars. Does anybody really think Lance Howard is the man at the top of this organized crime ring? And Indianapolis has long been stuck with a line of politically-connected U.S. prosecutors who ignore organized crime rings tied to prominent politicians locally. If we want this mess cleaned up in Indianapolis, it's going to take action from folks in D.C. That's how it gets cleaned up in Chicago and elsewhere. Based on the track record of the current occupant of that office, I wouldn't count on it.