Sunday, August 12, 2007

NY Times: For Want Of A Swearing In, An Arrest Is Lost In Indiana

The New York Times is writing today about Indianapolis' failure to swear in officers when they assumed their duties under the newly-created Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department following the merger of the city police and the sheriff's department. The NY Times writes:

The authorities may have inadvertently given hundreds or even thousands of people accused of drunken driving, dealing drugs and other crimes a way to get off the hook: The arresting officers were never sworn in.

A judge has ruled that a drunken-driving arrest was invalid because the officer had not been sworn in as a member of a new police department formed when the city police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department merged on Jan. 1. Other officers also were not sworn in.

At the time of the merger, the sheriff and other high-ranking officers attended a swearing-in ceremony, but most officers did not. Those officers had been sworn in by their former departments, so officials did not think it was necessary for them to take another oath.

That was a mistake, Judge Reuben Hill of Superior Court ruled this week.

Indiana state law requires all police officers to be sworn to duty with the agency to
whom they are employed,” Judge Hill wrote in granting a defense motion for dismissal. Since the officer had not been sworn in by the new agency, the judge wrote, he “was not statutorily or constitutionally empowered to enforce the law
of this state.”

The state said it planned to appeal the ruling, which Attorney General Steve Carter said raised “questions about the propriety of hundreds, if not thousands, of arrests that have been made this year by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.”

Even if the ruling is upheld, the jail doors would not necessarily be opened wide, said James Voyles, one of the defense lawyers who made the motion leading to the court decision. Some arrests could still be valid, and motions for dismissal would have to be filed and argued in each case, Mr. Voyles said.

Kobi Wright, the head city-county attorney, said the ruling baffled him. Two other judges have denied similar defense motions, Mr. Wright said.

“I don’t think it’s credible to state that the city should reswear officers who were already sworn in,” Mr. Wright said.

Mr. Wright and Mr. Carter both said there was no statutory requirement that
police officers take an oath, and Mr. Wright said the state code cited by the judge in his ruling did not apply to police officers covered under a bargaining contract, like those in Indianapolis.

However, a professor who is an expert in criminal procedure said that the
case was not so clear and that it raised a “legitimate question.”

The professor, Henry C. Karlson of the Indiana University School of Law in Indianapolis, said the question was not whether state law required an oath — he said it did — but whether the merged department was a new agency or a continuation of one of its predecessors.

If it is a new department, everyone should be sworn in, Mr. Karlson said.
If it is a continuation, he said, then officers of the agency that was being absorbed would have to be sworn in.

A police spokesman, Capt. Phil Burton, said the department had no plans to require officers to take another oath.

IMPD officials are digging in their heels and still refusing to swear in the IMPD officers. Would someone please explain to the folks on the 25th floor this is something that's not worth taking to risk? Just swallow your pride and swear in the officers.

Hat tip to Indiana Barrister.


Anonymous said...

How STUPID of these officers and the Sheriff. If we are paying these "employees" out of my state funded tax dollars to protect me and they are not doing their job because they refuse to take an oath then - FIRE THEM! They obviously cannot protect me under Indiana law so why are they using my tax dollars to give them a pay check every week. Had the drunk driver hit me or one of my loved ones I would sue the metropolotin police department for their irresponsibility of putting these officers on the streets when they aren't really employees anyway!

Anonymous said...

The Times didn't write that. It's an AP story, and it's appearing in papers all over the country today.

Anonymous said...

Way to go Mayor "Circle Jerk"!

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that Nancy Grace has this story and will address it next week on CNN Headline News.
This should be a lot of fun to watch.
It sure didn't take the country long to forget about the Super Bowl did it.
Fricking NANCY GRACE!!! Can you imagine???????

Anonymous said...

Friucking Nancy Grace, NY Times, AP...this is an almost week-old story.

I saw it in the NYT this morning, too...and read the entire story. No new news.


Anonymous said...

You could say the BP story is old news, too.

Why don't they just swear everyone in again so there will be no question about arrests made in the future?

Anonymous said...

“Why don't they just swear everyone in again so there will be no question about arrests made in the future?”

Good question.
Swearing the oath now would be admitting that a mistake was made in the consolidation. Swearing the oath now would protect citizens of Indianapolis but would reinforce the shortcomings of the current administration. The Mayor burying his head in the sand is a better approach than providing basic duties, public safety.
Great job Mayor Peterson.

Anonymous said...

I think the ordinances cover this, and they don't need to swear them in again.

This was asked and answered during the consolidation debate. I watched it on the MCSD-IPD televised committee meetings.

However, the 4:42 poster, sadly, is correct.

Political bravado goeth before the fall.

Hithc up yer trousers, Frank, swallow hard, and re-oath these officers.

(However, doing so could also patently admit a chink in thousands of tickets and arrests already made...)

Anonymous said...

For the record 11:32, The officers are not refusing to take the oath but rather the city administration is refusing to give it to them.

It is the mayor who has failed you on this farce they have called consolidation, not the officers who are out on the street everyday

Anonymous said...

It may not be new news to us, but to the rest of the country Indianapolis looks like a hick town on the map? World Class City? I think not. It is run by Mayor McCheese and his posse.

Anonymous said...

I suppose the Wiki might find some additional editors for the "Bart Peterson" entry.

A more balanced view might be in order.

Anonymous said...

Prior to the merger we had a Consolidated City. After the merger we still have a Consolidated City. The name of the political entity is "Consolidated City of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana."

Police officers are appointed by the political subdivision of the state, which, for these officers of two departments were both for the SAME political subdivision!

Both departments provided law enforcement for the same Consolidated City and both enforced the ordinances of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana both prior to and after the departments merged.

The political subdivision just had two different departments duplicating the service, but both are a part of the Consolidated City (See Consolidated Cities and Counties Act 1968).

Now, if the officers of both agencies swore to perform their law enforcement function and faithfully enforce the laws of Indiana and ordinances of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana then what is the big deal??? --Call it two different departments, but it seems to me that the officers took an oath to perform the SAME duty to the SAME governmental entity, the Consolidated City of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana.

Now, as for Reuben Hill's assertion of something in Indiana law requiring a swearing in...well, I have searched and NOT FOUND ANY law about police officers being required to take an oath.

Hill isn't known in the judiciary as a "bright bulb", in fact his faculties have been questioned by many attend sessions in his courtroom.

If there is no such law as cited by Hill (I couldn't find it), then the oath is merely a CEREMONIAL act and has no bearing on the officer's status as a police officer.

The bottom line is: when the officers were sworn in they were sworn to uphold the laws of Indiana and ordinances of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana. Get it they all took an oath to do the same thing for the same entity.

It seems the oath issue is moot because they already took an oath to perform their respective duty for the SAME governmental entity they now work for...and, no law says otherwise!

Gary R. Welsh said...

anon 7:10, the sheriff's department was excluded from the original consolidation of the city. The sheriff's department maintained jurisdiction over the same unincorporated areas it policed prior to the consolidation, while IPD's jurisdiction was limited to the old city limits. Sheriff's employees reported to the Sheriff and not to the Mayor of the consolidated city.

Anonymous said...

AI, the deputies did enforce the laws of the Consolidated City and State of Indiana. -Sorry if there were harmless error. I think the important thing is that they did enforce the laws of the Consolidated City of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana.

Anonymous said...

I dunno,, a judge, top notch attorney, and a law professor seem to think there's something to this. The prudent thing would be to swear the officers in and remove any doubt

Anonymous said...

8:08...remember its judge who has questionable faculties, a law professor who is not an attorney nor authority but bills himself to the media so to enhance his teaching credentials, and the top notch attorney you refer to is working for his client to obfuscate the drunk driving.

Bottom line: We govern by laws. No law has been presented to show anything about an oath.

The issue has no merit and is the ruling of a judical officer of questionable faculties.

I say the ruling is insane and we need to move on. No oath is required and, if there were, they all already took a proper oath to uphold the laws of Indiana and ordinances of Indianapolis-Marion County.

Anonymous said...

Anon 710, I think you are reading into this Consolidated City of Indianapolis stuff a little too much. You see before Bart came to power Unigov was and still is not complete. As a IPD LEO I never said or swore to anything in my oath about a Consolidated City of Indianapolis. MCSD was not IPD and IPD was not MCSD, they were 2 separate and distinct entities that held and did 2 separate types of policing. That duplication of services dish that Bart fed everyone was just that, a dish. The sheriff had no power over IPD likewise for IPD. Police Officers are required to take an oath when sworn into a new department regardless of whether or not they have police powers in that state. We sometime have people do lateral transfers from other departments, they are still required by law to take an oath. Call Judge Hill what you want but he didnt create this fiasco, Bart did. The Judge made a ruling on what the law is when Voyles brought it up and that is that.

Anonymous said...

Careful, 8:08...don't ascribe too much credibility to Prof. Karlson.

No one else does.

Anonymous said...

This from GOP mayoral candidate Ballard. Ballard thinks the judge's decision is wrong and that the appeal will prevail, but just in case:

The Indianapolis Star
Swear in police, mayoral candidate says
August 10, 2007

The Republican candidate for mayor wants members of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to be sworn in by a judge or the sheriff, to ensure they can enforce the law and make arrests.
A decision Tuesday by Judge Reuben Hill brings into question all arrests by the merged Indianapolis Police Department and Marion County Sheriff's Department. Hill said a drunken-driving arrest this year was illegal because officers in the combined department were not sworn in after the merger.
Police officials said Wednesday they would not readminister the oath, but Greg Ballard, GOP mayoral candidate, said that should be done as a precaution.
"Technicalities can rule in a court of law, and if this thing is upheld, we already have lost tens of millions of dollars to reinvestigate and retry these cases," Ballard said. "We don't want to add to that burden."

Anonymous said...

8:14 you are confused.

First, there is NO LAW to require swearing in...that is a ceremonial event.

Second, both agencies enforced the laws of Indiana and ordinances of Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana. Your confusion apparently sets because they were two agencies that each operated under different rules and had a different chief officer.

Unfortunately, that is irrelevant.

The oath they took was to enforce the laws of the state and the municipal corporation. Both performed the same function.

I think you may feel that the oath somehow swears allegiance to a does not, sir. The oath is to discharge the duty and enforce the law of Indiana and Indianapolis-Marion County, Indiana.

They are the same duties.

Now, I must challenge you: Provide a citation of law requiring an oath. I have searched and fine NONE.

Is your personal passion for 2 different ways of doing things clouding the real issue of whether the same identical laws were enforced prior to and after merger?

I respectfully submit to you that the ruling by Hill is incorrect.

Anonymous said...

8:14 Wow!

Have you considered Anger Management?

So far, I haven't seen anything that lends credibility to "Judge" Hill's decision. I'm thinking he is on the fringe (if you know what I mean).

You are obviously angry, but you have not refuted the previous thread that the ruling by Hill is without merit.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon 8:37...

I'm a newbie law student (who has no interest in criminal law). But, I am interested in your assertion that the Indiana Code does not require an oath. It would seem that IC 5-4-1-1 requires an oath. In your opinion why does this law not apply?

IC 5-4-1-1
Oaths; officers and deputies; prosecuting attorneys and deputies
Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided in subsection (c), every officer and every deputy, before entering on the officer's or deputy's official duties, shall take an oath to support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of Indiana, and that the officer or deputy will faithfully discharge the duties of such office.
(b) A prosecuting attorney and a deputy prosecuting attorney shall take the oath required under subsection (a) before taking office.
(c) This subsection applies to a deputy of a political subdivision. An individual appointed as a deputy is considered an employee of the political subdivision performing ministerial functions on behalf of an officer and is not required to take the oath prescribed by subsection (a). However, if a chief deputy assumes the duties of an office during a vacancy under IC 3-13-11-12, the chief deputy must take the oath required under subsection (a) before entering on the official duties of the office.
(Formerly: Acts 1852, 1RS, c.13, s.1.) As amended by P.L.49-1989, SEC.2; P.L.176-1999, SEC.119.

Anonymous said...

10:08 Newby: I'm a veteran and you are obfuscating the issue, sir.

IC 5-4-1 has nothing to do with police officers.

If you want to contribute, please do so meaningfully.

Anonymous said...

5-4-1 is elected officials, NOT Law Enforcement Officers!

Anonymous said...

10:08 Officers of a municipal corporation enforce the ordinances of the corporation in addition to state law.

You are clouding the issue...with requirements for elected officers.

Anonymous said...

10:08, I got a question for you!

Can Corrupt Carl Drummer, "King Ro" Conley, Tony Duncan, Patrice "The Dishonorable" Abdullah, and Rozelle Boyd be prosecuted for the crime of OFFICIAL MISCONDUCT or PERJURY for not paying their taxes to the State of Indiana after taking their oath?

Inquiring TAXPAYING minds want to know.

Anonymous said...

I iz Monroe Gray and i made dis diziggion on conzoludation. so, i iz impotent, so get off my azz!.
I iz real tired of u honkies mezzing with me!

Anonymous said...

Help a layman out here
1)Why does a person have to take an oath or affirm each time they go in front of a judge. Is this different or trully window dressing?
2)Will these officers be required to re-affirm after an election and change of chief?

Anonymous said...

"Duh! I iz Monroe Gray....mezzing with me!"

You are the real idiot! Monroe Gray is not a scholar by any means, to post racist trash like that make you even more the idiot!!!

Anonymous said...

8:14 you are confused.

First, there is NO LAW to require swearing in...that is a ceremonial event.

It is not that hard to find moron:

IC 5-2-1-17 Police officers; enforcement powers; duties; oath; training
Sec. 17. (a) Police officers appointed under this chapter have all necessary law enforcement powers, including:
(1) the power to arrest, without process, all persons who within the police officer's view commit any felony or misdemeanor;
(2) all common law and statutory powers, privileges, and immunities of sheriffs, except those specifically forbidden by the board; and
(3) the power to serve civil process to the extent authorized by the board.
(b) Police officers appointed under this chapter shall:
(1) preserve the peace, maintain order, and prevent the unlawful use of force or violence or other unlawful conduct on property owned or operated by the board;
(2) protect all persons and property located on property owned or operated by the board from injury, harm, or damage;
(3) assist the executive director to enforce the rules of the board or the Indiana law enforcement academy;
(4) assist and cooperate with other law enforcement agencies and officers; and
(5) enforce the state motor vehicle laws and motor vehicle rules established by the board on property owned or operated by the board.
(c) Police officers appointed by the board:
(1) must take an appropriate oath of office in a form and manner prescribed by the board;

(2) serve at the pleasure of the board; and
(3) must comply with the training requirements prescribed under section 9 of this chapter.

Now, get your panties out of a bunch already.

Anonymous said...

6:12 You need to study your law a little better. IC 5-2-1-17 as you can read for yourself has NOTHING to do with municipal police officers.

You quoted from a section of law that allows the Law Enforcement Training Board to appoint police officers for its own property. Guess what? Many state agencies can appoint police officers and are granted authority in their respective section of the Indiana Code (War Memorial Commission, Deaf School, State Universities, etc) The authority to appoint each type of police officer is spelled out in its own section of the law.

As you can see, the police officers mentioned in that section are employees of The Law Enforcement Training Board, not a municipal corporation.

There is no requirement under law that municipal police officers take an oath, it is only a ceremonial event.

Anonymous said...

6:12, were you up all night? You sure are angry.

I looked up the law you cited and it does not apply. Your law citation only applies to the Law Enforcement Training Board's police force, the ones that police their own property. If you had read your own citation, you can even see that there is several times mention of their duties to the LETB, their appointing entity.

In point of fact, that entire chapter establishes the duties of the LETB.

While you probably did a quick search using a search engine, when researching law it is important that you read what it is you are referring to, don't just take a section and assert it's applicability to anything under the stars.

I checked and was not able to find any law that requires an oath for city police in the Indiana Code.

Anonymous said...

6:12 Did you read what you put in the thread or just paste?

You state in relevant portion: "(2) protect all persons and property located on property owned or operated by the board from injury, harm, or damage;
(3) assist the executive director to enforce the rules of the board or the Indiana law enforcement academy;"

The law you cite comes from the chapter of Indiana law that establishes the Law Enforcement Training Board and it's duties. They LETB is authorized to appoint police for its property who serve at the pleasure of the LETB.

This cite has nothing to do with city police.

Anonymous said...

My response was to a general comment which was that there was no requirement for an oath. There are some requirements.

In terms of IMPD, the law would be IC 36-3-1-5.1.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

11:32, first post -Get a clue!

Anonymous said...

Anon 1002, Thanks for your ever so educated opinion. How many years have you sat on the bench?? Oh where did you get your law degree from? As for anger management, are you a psychiatrist too?? Wish I could be as smart as you, staying up all night surfin the net proving that just because one is not computer illiterate doesnt make them smart.