Thursday, September 16, 2010

Straub Seizes Control Of Criminal Intelligence Unit Within IMPD

The IMPD officers working in the Criminal Intelligence Unit under Deputy Chief William Benjamin who found a pinpoint camera and audio surveillance equipment in Benjamin's office during a sweep have been reassigned to the Homeland Security Division within the Department of Public Safety headed by Frank Straub. WTHR's Sandra Chapman reports:

The unit of officers who found undercover surveillance equipment in the office of Deputy Chief Bill Benjamin will no longer report to him.

13 investigates has learned the Criminal Intelligence Unit is being moved to another deputy chief in the public safety director's office.

Two weeks ago, undercover surveillance equipment was found in the office of Deputy Chief Bill Benjamin. IMPD said the pinhole camera and audio recording device were inoperable and inadvertently left by the previous occupant.

Now 13 Investigates has learned that the group of officers in charge of the city's Criminal Intelligence will no longer come under Benjamin's authority.

The Surveillance and Special Operations Unit is being moved to Deputy Chief Michael Bates in Homeland Security, under Public Safety Director Frank Straub.

"They will all report to the Homeland Security Unit," said IMPD Chief Paul Ciesielski.

"Why now?" Eyewitness News asked.

"Why not?" he replied.

Chief Ciesielski denies the move is anything other than an effort to streamline Department operations.

13 Investigates started to ask of the recent incident with the surveillance issues had anything to do with the change. The chief didn't wait for the entire question.

" Absolutely not," he insisted.

"It had nothing to do with it?" we asked.

"Absolutely not," he said.

He went on to provide reasons for the move. "Part of the responsibilities are dignitary protection, helping to plan for special events, they also look at threat assessments and a lot of the security issues when it comes to not only the city but special events. That's what Homeland Security does, so it makes sense."

Ciesielski says he notified Benjamin of the move on Monday, and says as the Chief of Investigations, Benjamin will still be in charge of 300 officers.

The chief says the change was not a secret, but put out no releases because the public does not directly see what the Criminal Intelligence Unit does.

The chief says on Friday, he and the mayor will meet with a large group of ministers and members of the faith-based community to answer as many questions as possible. But he acknowledges they won't be able to answer questions relating to ongoing investigations.

Police sources have warned Straub was establishing his own secret police unit within the Department of Public Safety akin to Hitler's Gestapo to use to retaliate against police officers who don't accept his command of the department. Critics say Benjamin's office was swept for bugs after a former associate of Straub's in New York warned dissenters within the police department that Straub might be surveilling them. Notice the unit is under Deputy Chief Michael Bates. How can someone be working under Straub at the Department of Public Safety and yet be called a Deputy Chief? In addition to moving the Criminal Intelligence Unit, I'm also told Straub has moved police officers who serve as drivers for Mayor Ballard and Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi  to the Department of Public Safety where they will now report to him instead of Ciesielski. Critics complain Straub has completely undermined the chain of command within IMPD and effectively neutered Chief Ciesielski. If the goal is to put Straub in charge of IMPD, then why didn't Ballard just name him IMPD Chief instead of creating all of this chaos that has besieged the department.?


Indy4U2C said...

This is a violation of city ordinance. The Public Safety Director has NO OPERATIONAL CONTROL over police. He cannot order them, discipline them, hire them, fire them.

I agree with the Hitler comparison. Something smells here....

Downtown Indy said...

Given enough time I think all law enforcement in the country will become a division of 'homeland security.' That is extremely disconcerting because the latter tends to make up new restrictions on personal liberty whenever the whim strikes them.

It seems they can declare anything a 'threat to security,' even something as innocent as a tourist taking pictures of the 'wrong' things.

Someone will no doubt give you the 'Godwin's Law' treatment for your blog post. But Homeland Security is already too powerful, continues to grab more, and is willing to ignore Constitutional safeguards in pursuit of their objectives, so the analogy is reasonable.

Vox Populi said...

Ballard Ballard Ballard. Too many people forget he's the boss and that he's responsible for the decision to move units around. If he wanted to, he could nix the idea and fire Straub.

But Ballard is fine with it. Ballard is fine with anything that puts a metal rod up Indy's ass.

Unknown said...

Agreed that this stinks...

I don't doubt that there is a deep cultural problem in IMPD. I also don't doubt that some of the people higher-up are part of the problem.

That said, I can't see this move working. Straub doesn't have the political support to make radical changes.

Vox Populi is correct: This is about Ballard. Indy4U2C, it's not about Straub anymore.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Stasi Indianapolis? I need to update my passport.

Unknown said...

You're confusing the Homeland Security Bureau within IMPD with the foolishly-renamed Homeland Security Division (formerly Emergency Management) in the DPS. The unit is not being moved outside IMPD.