Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Straub Draws Ire Of IMPD

During the last year of former Mayor Bart Peterson's administration, police contempt for his administration oozed out everywhere. Despite a four-year contract that gave police officers a relatively healthy boost in pay at a time other public employees saw their salaries either frozen or in some cases reduced, dissatisfaction ran high. Many were angered that he had ceded control of a merged police and sheriff's department to Marion Co. Sheriff Frank Anderson. The FOP, not surprisingly, endorsed Ballard and worked hard for his election. Ballard kept at least one campaign promise he made and moved quickly to move control of IMPD back under the Department of Public Safety where the police would answer to him. He also put a former prosecutor, Scott Newman, in charge of the department, but what a difference the past year has made.

Ballard and Newman stumbled badly by some of their early management decisions, including keeping Mike Spears as chief and putting Lincoln Plowman, a City-County Councilor, in charge of investigations. Plowman was later quietly transferred out of that position to an administrative job without any fanfare. IMPD got a big black eye when it was revealed that close to 50 police officers were moonlighting for a scrap metal dealer suspected of purchasing stolen materials. After Newman abruptly left the administration last summer, citing health concerns, Ballard brought in an outsider, Frank Straub, a former New York City Police Department administrator and public safety director for a smaller, suburban New York city. Straub had just been forced out of his job in White Plains, New York after feuding with the city council over work hours for police and firefighters. Council members claimed Straub had defied the policies they enacted. Straub claimed he saved taxpayers money.

No sooner had Straub been on the job than Lincoln Plowman came under investigation by the FBI for allegedly accepting bribes and was forced out of his job. Soon thereafter, Straub and Ballard announced a shake-up in the management of IMPD. Spears was out as chief and in was Paul Ciesielski, a long-time respected member of the force. Things appeared to be heading in the right direction until Straub started meddling and exercising more control over the department. That brings us to the current day where sources cite growing conflict between Straub and IMPD management and rank-and-file police officers. FOP's leadership is openly feuding with Straub and some are predicting that a new four-year contract proposed by the administration is doomed to rejection by the police union, in part, due to strained relations between police and Straub and some of the plans he is currently implementing that are discussed below.

One source is now describing Straub as "out of control." Without consulting Chief Cieselski, Straub announced he planned to promote an old Spears' protege', Cliff Myers, to the position of Assistant Chief. In that role, Straub planned to make Myers responsible for patrol operations and criminal investigations. Assistant Chief Darryl Pierce, Deputy Chief Ronald Hicks and Deputy Chief Bill Benjamin were reportedly outraged by Myers' promotion according to a well-placed source. Straub planned to move Spears to the Commander's position that Myers would vacate in the Southeast District after his promotion.Straub also planned to demote Pierce to a token position in charge of Youth Services. Adding more fuel to the fire, Straub ordered all appointed IMPD management officials to cease direct communications with Mayor Ballard and forbade them from visiting the 25th floor of the City-County Building where Ballard's office is located.

Critics complain that Straub wasted taxpayers money remodeling the public safety offices and by purchasing new badges fashioned after similar badges used in New York for the homeland security division. A source says the paranoid Straub is implementing plans to more closely monitor all phone and computer communications within public safety, and to create a secret unit in the department to investigate fraudulent disability retirements. Straub is also reaching further to impede communications with the media. Straub’s Chief of Staff, Carolin Requiz-Smith, who has tagged along with Ballard and his wife on several overseas junkets and who some complain can barely speak English, is the author of a media blackout policy that prohibits anyone in public safety from commenting to the media unless they receive prior approval from Straub or a member of his staff.

Another new reorganization plan within IMPD's operations has many long-time detectives with the department upset. Chief Ciesielski announced this week that the centralized crime unit in which detectives specializing in aggravated assault, robbery, organized crime, vehicle thefts, juvenile and financial crimes are assigned will be dissolved. This plan will move 65 detectives from the central crime unit to five of the six policing districts. The detectives would be assigned to cases currently assigned to those districts, plus continue investigations on all of their current caseload. Supposedly the new organization is aimed at addressing property crimes committed in the respective districts. According to a source, neither the prosecutor's office nor the juvenile justice system were consulted about this move in advance. Juvenile Court Judge Marilyn Moores is reportedly upset with the move. Others are concerned that no thought was given to the training the detectives might need in investigating a wide variety of crimes different from what they had been tasked with investigating in the central office. Nonetheless, this plan is set to be implemented the first week of September.

An observer notes that while the units in the crime branch handling financial, organized crime and vehicle theft investigations are being dissolved, the Cyber Crimes unit will remain intact. Chief Paul Ciesielski's wife, Donna, works in that unit. The affected detectives at IMPD are reportedly outraged about their new assignments. A source says FOP President Bill Owensby confronted Straub during a telephone conversation this week about this latest move, which reportedly ended after a flurry of expletives flew on both ends of the conversation. Plans are also in the works according to a source to further restrict take-home car privileges for police officers, a move that is likely to set off another firestorm.

Some police officers complain about Straub's petulence about the manner in which he is addressed. Officers who make the mistake of addressing him as Director Straub are immediately corrected and told they are to address him as Dr. Straub. Not many people with Phds insist on being addressed as doctors, but it's apparently a big deal to Straub. Members of the news media have been regularly referring to him as Dr. Straub rather than Director Straub as well.

Finally, there are also reports that Straub has tasked his deputy director, Jon Mayes, with fashioning a new gun ban ordinance that might pass constitutional scrutiny, especially as it applies to public property and parks. Gun rights activists were already distrustful of Straub when Ballard announced his appointment because of his support of gun ban laws in the past. At the rate he is going, Ballard is likely to be as unpopular with the police as his predecessor was when he sought re-election in 2007. And we all know how that race ended.

20 comments:

Brizzonator said...

Why not report on the PIO (Public Information Officer) Confrontation by Straub on Sgt. Mount.

These Coppers are not going to take any crap from this New York "Carl Brizzi" style Lunkhead who likes to hear himself talk...

Indy4U2C said...

I have noticed that this Public Safety Director seems to have megalomania!

Since coming to Indy, he interrupts questions media pose to the Police Chief on TV, wants to be the one on camera when people and media want Police responses...

This black-out of police communicating with media is disturbing and demonstrative of a control-freak or megalomaniac.

I also noticed that police now have to have public safety around their logo...why is that?

The micromanagment of the police department has been obvious, but there is a fire department in public safety. I wonder if Straub knows the name of the fire chief....

What did Straub do to reduce costs during FDIC? Did he have firemen on overtime hanging out during FDIC while apparatus was out of service at FDIC?

I really get the impression this outsider thinks he is a public safety director of a small town like White Plains, NY, with no crime...instead of the biggest city in the state!

Mayor Ballard, Straub has proven a poor choice. Now this report that police executives are prohibited from contacting the Mayor is very disturbing!

I have a question: What if the Chief of Police contacts the mayor? What if his staff contacts the mayor? -I have reviewed the City Code and found that the Public Safety Director cannot fire or discipline police officers. That is law. The mayor himself appoints the police chief, so why can't that appointee directly speak with the mayor???

Get rid of Straub now before further damage is done. I have a feeling Straub will embarrass a good mayor.

Indy Student said...

I think I might have to read that all again to really digest the information.

A commenter over at Abdul's blog, Think Again, has continually questioned the need for the Public Safety Director's office, claiming it's just a middleman between the 25th floor and the departmental heads of IMPD, animal control, etc...

Do you think there's any truth to that? What role does Public Safety Director really serve.

As for the PHd title, that sounds extremely petty. I would hope that our municipal government is staffed by adults, but apparently that's too much to hope for.

Advance Indiana said...

Personally, if I was mayor, I would want the police chief and fire chief to report directly to me. I agree it is a wasted level of bureaucracy that is out-of-touch on many levels. You can see that in the hires that are being made for his office. It flies in the face of what Ballard said he wanted when he was running for mayor. But I think Ballard really doesn't want to deal with these issues directly himself as he indicated during his run for mayor; he wants someone else to make all of the tough decisions while he is having fun running around making feel good public appearances and taking junkets.

Ben said...

Guys, there is no longer a Chief of Police, it is a figure head at best. Straub runs the show. Even the Mayor is kissing this guys ass.

At least he can put three words togeather unlike our Mayor.

The Chief position is for PR purposes only. He does not run the IMPD. Straub does. If you question this you will be sent to the property room to spend the rest of your days. As have three officers in the past four weeks.

Mark my words, with in a year Straub will be trying to take our guns. He is a left wing liberal from NYC who has no understanding of the IMPD. The guys on the street hate the man. How he got this job is way beyond me.

Straub, this is not NYC. We have values and we like our guns. Crawl back into the gutter that you came from and leave the IMPD alone. They were doing just find untill you got here.

The Chief has been told that he must go through Strab to contact him. Straub has set up the Chief for failure. The Chief no longer has any contact with the Mayor,.have you noticed the Chief and the Mayor togeather at any Press conferences???...NO

Straub is a camera whore. The Chief has been told to stand down. Way to go there Mayor.

Southsider said...

Anyone know why he was forced out of White Plains NY employment????

Advance Indiana said...

I thought my post was clear on that point. He had a dispute with the city council over the work hours of police and firefighters. The council claimed he defied the policy they enacted. He resigned after the council called an emergency meeting to terminate him.

Southsider said...

Sorry, that's what I get for skimming..eyes aren't as good as during the younger years.

Paul K. Ogden said...

"Jon Mayes, with fashioning a new gun ban ordinance that might pass constitutional scrutiny, especially as it applies to public property and parks."

Jon Mayes knows as much about constitutional law as I know about brain surgery. The man had two years legal experience when he got his job at City Legal. His only training on "constitutional law" is maybe a consitutional law class in law school.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

HISTORY will show that IPD detectives have been "de-centralized" several times since the Goldsmith years.
Did it EVER work? NO!
That's why, quietly, over a period of a year or two, they were always put back the way they were.
Actually, FRANK, there may be a person or two in this city that know how to run a police department better than you. Even if you ARE a DOCTOR.

Paul K. Ogden said...

IS,

We attorneys are all "doctors." Everyone from now on needs to call me Dr. Ogden.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

See this article posted on Craigs List. It was written by a retired officer.

http://indianapolis.craigslist.org/rnr/1881814409.html

GeeDubya said...

Very well written article. It opened my eyes to a lot of the turmoil downtown that I hadn't really known about (or maybe I just wasn't paying attention), although I just knew Straub would turn out to be a terrible choice for Indy.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Gee,

I would agree with you. This is terrific reporting from Gary. He scooped every publication in town on the turmoil in the Department. And my sources confirm tha he's exactly correct on what he's published here.

tea party guy said...

The FOP has just as much to blame with this. They have a labor management committe that was not in-tuned with what was going on. You now have 66 detectives being moved. This was not a big secret. It was planned for months and now the FOP is scrambling becasue the contract will be voted down.

Indy4U2C said...

News reports say that Straub was rejected....

Downtown Indy said...

I don't know what it means. It may easily have nothing to do with this.

All I know is almost daily I pass by the new FOP hall in the former Shelby St Federal bank building, 1400 S Shelby St (at I-65). The parking and another scross the street have been packed every time with IMPD cars and uniformed officers streaming in.

This only started over the past couple of weeks.
Sure looks like something big is going on.

Concerned Taxpayer said...

"... This was not a big secret. It was planned for months and now the FOP is scrambling becasue the contract will be voted down..."
Tea Party, since you seem to know so much about all of this, why don't you enlighten us?
Be sure to explain to us exactly when the FOP learned that the detectives would be moved.

HamiltonGOP said...

Ballard is proving to be a very incompetent man. He is also nothing like the guy he made himself out to be during his campaign. He hired Straub as a buffer between him and community violence. He thinks that the community will blame Straub instead of him for community violence helping to get him reelected. The public will see through Ballard’s nonsense. This guy Straub is a sniveling little elitist liberal. Why would a guy like Ballard who calls himself a conservative hire a guy like Straub? The answer is simple; Ballard is a RINO and not a conservative.

american patriot said...

I remember when Hudnut pissed off IPD back in the mid 70s, a bunch of officers parked their cars on a city street with lights and sirens going and locked them, then walked away after tossing the keys into some trash cans or baskets, can't remember which. I think he was looking at reducing take home cars.

Even the tiny town of Speedway has been talking about having a dir of public safety, word is town manager Barbara Lawrence wants to keep the police and fire depts under her thumb, and this is her way of bypassing the police commission to get that done.

I guess we'll really know we've hit rock bottom in our governmental leadership if Glenn Beck give Obama a break one night and tears into Ballard.