"This is a sad day for law enforcement," said U.S. Attorney Timothy M. Morrison, "as we announce the indictment of three of our own, three Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officers, on marijuana trafficking charges. Not only did this men violate drug laws, but they reduced the reservoir of trust between the public and police--committing acts in uniform, using police vehicles, displaying bogus search warrants, breaking into private property, and diverting seized drugs and cash to their personal benefit."
According to the U.S. Attorney's press release, the three are facing a maximum of 20 years in prison, if convicted on conspiracy charges, along with a $1 million fine and a period of supervised release of not less than three years. They also face five years of jail for each count of drug dealing and a $250,000 fine, and up to 25 years in jail on gun-related charges. The press release contains this reminder: "The indictment is an allegation only, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty at trial or by guilty plea."
Incredibly, while taxpayers were being forced to pay another $90 million in income taxes to pay for crime-fighting initiatives last year, at least one IMPD officer was busy tipping off drug dealers involved in the Haughville cocaine syndicate who were under investigation, and three others stand accused of running an organized crime enterprise. How will Mayor Ballard respond to this crisis of confidence in IMPD? While the U.S. Attorney's Office was making its announcement of the troubling corruption within the police agency he now runs, Mayor Ballard conducted his own press conference to announce the launch of "Peace In The Streets" billboards with Deputy Mayor Olgen Williams, his son Aaron Williams, the Director of the "Peace In The Streets" initiative and IMPD Chief Michael Spears. The press release from the Mayor's Office says:
Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard in partnership with the US Attorney's Office and the Criminal Justice Institute announced today the availability of new funding opportunities for crime prevention as a result of federal and local collaboration.
In a proactive approach to diminishing gang activity in Indianapolis, a Steering Committee and subcommittees were formed in 2007 to plan and execute activities in line with the Attorney General's Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative (CAGI). The two focus areas for this round of funding is crime prevention and re-entry in the Indianapolis area zip codes which include 46201, 46208, 46218, 46222, and 46224.
Crime Prevention: $1 million will support comprehensive prevention efforts that focus on addressing the full range of personal, family, and community factors that contribute to juvenile delinquency and gang activity. It is the intent of the crime prevention grants to reduce the occurrence of youth gang crime and precursor gang crime incidents, and to increase positive outcomes for youth at high risk for gang involvement through targeted, evidence-based gang prevention.
Re-Entry: $500,000 is dedicated to re-entry assistance programs. The intent of the re-entry grants is to provide aid to formerly incarcerated individuals who are identified as present gang members or are at risk for future gang involvement. Utilization of faith-based and community organizations, pre-release assessment and services, intensive community-based supervision and comprehensive community support are necessary to facilitate reintegration.
Funding for this first phase of Mayor Ballard's comprehensive crime prevention initiative is made possible by a $2.5M grant from the US Department of Justice. Ironically, I am told by a source within the U.S. Attorney's Office that the Office ended a Safer Neighborhood grant, which the Office originally awarded to Christamore House's Aaron Williams last year for an earlier rendition of this Peace In The Streets program, because of concerns about the way Williams administered the grant. Now, his father, Deputy Mayor Williams, is roping Mayor Ballard into directing more money to the program administered by his son. Has anyone in Mayor Ballard's office had a discussion about "conflicts of interest"? Does fighting crime mean public financing of a nonprofit formerly run by the Deputy Mayor and providing employment opportunities for members of his family? Am I missing something here?