Thursday, December 09, 2010

What Is "Hoosier Speak"?

I learned something new listening to Public Safety Director Frank Straub's testimony before the Public Safety Committee on his reappointment. Apparently we speak a different language in Indiana than they speak in New York, or at least according to Dr. Straub. The Star's Vic Ryckaert quotes Straub as saying in response to criticism by some of his perceived brashness that he is still learning to "speak Hoosier":

In Wednesday's hearing, Straub faced tough questions from council members and acknowledged his mistakes.

"We're changing an organization. We're trying to go from being a very good organization to being a great organization," Straub told members of the council's Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee. "We're challenging people to think differently."

Council member Aaron Freeman, a former deputy prosecutor, said Straub's brash leadership has alienated his troops and that his changes will not take hold without "buy-in" from IMPD officers.

"Right now, I fear that some of the members of the Police Department don't feel that buy-in," Freeman said. "What can you do to help the members of the Police Department have that buy-in?" Freeman, a Republican, later voted in favor of Straub, but said it was a difficult decision.

Fraternal Order of Police officials also have criticized Straub for his abrasive management style. An internal FOP survey released two weeks ago showed that just 3.4 percent of police officers said they thought Straub supported them, and only 17 percent said morale in the department was high.

Straub, a native of New York, said he has failed to communicate effectively and noted he is still learning to "speak Hoosier."

Straub deflected some of the problems back onto FOP leaders.

"I think the FOP has a role to play by heralding the good works of our police officers," Straub said.

Before the hearing, FOP President Bill Owensby urged officers to contact their representatives and tell them what they think of Straub. He defended the FOP's actions before the committee.

"The FOP I think is getting a bad rap in terms of being obstructionist," Owensby said in urging the committee to vote against reappointing Straub. "We've got a problem here, folks. It's not going to go away unless the FOP is included.

"We're not being included in anything."
The best example that comes to mind is a story a Ballard insider recounted to me last summer of Straub speaking at a church to a group of ministers and repeatedly dropping the f-bomb while speaking. Straub seemed surprised anyone would be offended by his use of the eff word. That's just how they talk out east you see. I wish someone would just get a straight answer from him on why he requires a traveling entourage of police officers to accompany him. Does he really believe the Public Safety Director needs personal body guards like the mayor?


BloominOnion said...

As a former New Yorker, I can tell you, you do speak a different language here in Indiana, and you should be damn proud of the fact. Here, words have actual definitions. In New York, they never, ever, do. The last thing you want to do is "buy in" to whatever New York is selling. 100% of the time, it's bait-and-switch.

Paul K. Ogden said...

I'm pretty sure dropping f-bombs in a church would be frowned upon even in New York.

Cato said...

What I can't stand about Indiana is the rude "you need" exhortation that is thrown around so carelessly.

If I'm buying fried chicken from your establishment, it's not "you need to order down here," it's "I'm sorry, Sir. That counter is for pick-up. Can I please take your order at this register?"

Downtown Indy said...

Since Straub believes violent crime is down and the city is safe, it does seem contradictory to have a security detail at all times.

But maybe having a posse is de rigueur in Noo Yawk.

leland35 said...

Frank Straub just doesn't get it. Indianapolis is NOT New York. We have conservative family values, not a New York Liberal "in your face" attitude!

When you see the things he has done, there has been NOTHING positive.

*He alienated policemen & firemen.

*He's been wasting our TAX money on extravagant expenses to enhance his image (hiring several staff as his "public relations staff"), enhance his luxury by spending a very large sum to remodel a suite of offices for himself, hire numerous Assistants etc to make him feel more powerful, created the largest personal staff ever in the history of the DPS.

*His words are not believable. He tries to brag about crime stats, yet he took the crime stat staff and put them in his office under his control. Do you think that with them working directly for Straub, crime COULD increase??? I believe he tells them what the numbers will be.

*Then there is the spying and creation of a dual personal police force, dubbed The GeStraubo: Under the guise of "Homeland Security" we have had a deputy chief of police office bugged, and who knows about their other activites???

*His take on racial discrimination is offensive and has been adjudicated unlawful. Despite a relatively recent Federal ruling that Indianapolis Public Safety had engaged in reverse discrimination and denied job opportunities to people based on race, Straub has been giving assignments based on race without allowing anyone to apply for them.

*Straub is a living Tort Claim against our city. (We taxPAYERS lose on this aspect). It was announced yet another tort claim was filed yesterday against Straub for slander. I'd say it's a valid prima facie case against him for slander. Why would any corporation retain employment of an executive that is recklessly causing the corporation to be sued and who recklessly impunes liability against the corporation by opening his big mouth???

*Straub's New York politics isn't flying right in our city. He tried to fire that policeman as a political "bone" to the concerned clergy without looking at the facts...that officer was cleared by a NOT guillty finding by civilian review. He also threw a political "bone" by demoting command staff without cause.....when he actually ordered them to STOP doing their police function and ORDERED them to come to a press conference praising Straub to enhance Straub's image.

Frank Straub is a failure. I hope the city council will do the right thing and reject him as PSD!

M Theory said...

Cato...if we don't know each other already, we would get along fabulously!

TwoDomeTown said...

Leland, you are correct. Straub has not done enough. Here are some suggestions he should consider to begin to accomplish the things the citizens of Indianapolis want:

1. End the take home car benefit. It is in clear violation of IRS code.
2. End part-time work permits. It is unethical to allow police officers to sell their powers to the highest bidder.
3. Have the IMPD patrolling and responding to incidents in all of Marion County including the interstate highways.
4. Institute random drug and substance abuse testing for all officers to include a sample of at least 2% per month.
5. Revamp the merit board to seat members of the community using a voir dire process for each case instead of appointed political hack, cronies, and friends.
6. Make available for immediate release on the internet all communications conducted by law enforcement personnel during the course of their duties including logs of typed messages from terminal equipment in the cars.
7. Ban all baseball caps, polo shirts, BDUs, and get officers back in a professional uniform - long sleeves and tie in the winter.

This would be a good start...

CircleCityScribe said...

New York has a 9.5% sales tax rate!!!

Indianapolis: Do you want to PAY TAXES that much so Frank Straub can have: a luxurious car, personal black driver (Frank want to portray 'diversity'), remodel suites to create luxury suites of offices at over $100k (more than most homes in Indy), hire a crony staff whose sole function is to publicly praise him? (The biggest staff in the history of our city). Stop police commanders from doing their duty to return for a press conference to PRAISE Frank Straub???

-Do you want 9.5% sales tax, which this New York liberal will require to pay for his own luxuries????

-Do you want to pay police and firemen to be "SEXUAL LIASONS" to diverse sexual behavior groups???? Our city prohibits sexual orientation discrimination, but I only see ONE sexual behavior (homosexual) receiving city-paid employees!!! Where are the heterosexual liason, adulterous liasons, beastiality liasons, pedophile liasons????? The city ordinance requires fair treatment, yet Frank Straub decides what behavior groups he will assign city employees duties to pander to! (Why are we paying TAX money for city employees to 'liason' to sexual behavior groups????)

Do you want the city (US TAXPAYERS) to be liable for millions in tort claims as a result of a loud mouth New York Liberal???? (Leland spoke of a new suit that was filed this week, but we can expect more....)

Frank Straub needs to leave Indianapolis and go back to his good buddy Steve Goldsmith (now Deputy Mayor of New York) for a new job!

leland35 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leland35 said...

TwoDome: Who is your employer? Do you work for FRANK STRAUB as his PUBLIC RELATIONS staff?

That said, Straub employee:

Take home cars offer higher visibility of POLICE officers! Since Frank hires crony patronage staffers at excessive salaries (What does Hite make???) how will we have visibility of law enforcement without them? My neighbor makes us all feel better having a police car in the neighborhood.

The part-time work is DEMANDED by our city! You see (New Yorker, TwoDome) our city is NOT paying for those officers that are DOWNTOWN and in BROAD RIPPLE every weekend....with TAX money! They are paid for with money from private employers. Do you propose the 9.5% SALES TAX of New York cited by Indy to PAY to protect us????

The smaller CITIES probably want home rule to enforce their city codes. IMPD does not enforce ordinances of Beech Grove, Lawrence or Speedway. You see, TwoDome, if you understood Indiana, you would know that home rule is a basic value. The interstates are responsibility of the State Police. If TwoDome knew anything about FEDERAL LAW, TwoDome would know that the Feds REQUIRE STATES to have a highway patrol on the interstate defense network!

The merit board is seated by law. If TwoDome has a problem with it, please contact your city councilor.

and, finally, everyone laugh at TwoDome: TwoDome wants to tell the Police Chief what his uniform requirements are!!! Guess what, TwoDome...that is the job of the CEO of the police force, not a sorry ignorant person....

Again, our city has delegated the duty of prescribing uniforms to the Police Chief and Fire Chief. If TwoDome wants them to wear a specific uniform, I suggest that TwoDome contact the respective CHIEF.

TwoDome, who is your employer???

TwoDomeTown said...

Oh yeah leland, one more thing... Stop the practice of 10 or more officers eating at the same place at the same time! A general order has been on the books for a long time. It would be nice if someone would enforce it.

You just can't imagine that anyone other than someone working for Straub could possibly think IMPD has a problem do you? Owensby sure doesn't. I heard him in an interview on the radio today that IMPD does NOT have any problems that need to be addressed. I think the public, and the management of IMPD have a different view. Hang on to your ball cap, this is going to be an interesting year.

varangianguard said...

Cato, you NEED to lighten up.


Sorry, couldn't pass that one up.

Cato said...

Two Dome:

Your 8:05 post is one of the best pieces I've ever read on police standards. Every last one of these should be immediately implemented.

Outstanding ideas!

Indy4U2C said...


Indianapolis already has an increased Sales TAX on restaurants to fund the CIB's mess.

Currently all those downtown businesses (including the Fieldhouse and Stadium) have the opportunity to pay lower rates to hire police to work those events as their own part-time employees.

Do you think we should have a new, HIGHER SALES TAX (like New York's 9.5%) in order to pay city employees overtime to work at those events???

Why don't you ask Indianapoils Downtown Inc.'s Tamara Zahn what her organization thinks about paying HIGHER SALES TAX to fund the needed police working during special events? Oh, I wonder what the Indiana Convention and Visitors Assn would say about increasing the sales tax to pay for that???? -What a great selling point for our city.

One thing New York is known for is it's outrageous sales tax. We don't have that.

To pay for Frank Straub's giant staff, personal driver (why does he have a driver anyway? This isn't New York. Can't Frank Straub pass the Indiana driver's test? -or is that another personal luxury we have to be taxed for?), luxury suite of offices, etc a TAX would have to be implemented.

Now you want to INCREASE SALES TAX so that there is a higher cost to attend special events imposed on all of us! Government employee overtime costs to work those events with employment TAXES that would have to be paid by the city would make living here undesireable, unaffordable, and/or more difficult to get conventions to come here.

Concerned Taxpayer said... are a real dumb a$$!
I wonder what world you came from. You obviously have no idea of how things really work.

Unknown said...

two-dome, I'm not sure quite how much you've been paying attention so I'll give you the benefit of the doubt.

So... you have officers committing federal felonies ON-DUTY and keeping their jobs. Straub and Ciesielski did not say a WORD about Candi Perry or Bobby Jefferson keeping their jobs. Your response to this is that Straub should end the take-home car policy, implement random substance abuse testing which has been happening for years, and start patrolling the highways? Oh, and let's not forget everybody eating dinner together. For Pete's sake, keep your eye on the ball!

This notion that IMPD wants Straub to go has nothing to do with him 'cleaning up the police department.' It has everything to do with his FAILURE to clean up the police department. They raise the hue and cry over the red herring known as Jerry Piland, who didn't do anything wrong. Then they do NOTHING to acknowledge their mistakes in letting someone come back to work who intentionally destroyed a homicide investigation and simply not caring when somebody steals several hundred dollars from a prisoner. And they STILL continue to grant transfers and create positions for minorities without due process, all the while touting their new cutting-edge appraisal program which hasn't amounted to a warm cup of drool. They reassigned several officers for testifying as character witnesses for Piland, despite the fact that if the merit board subpoenas you YOU ARE COMPELLED. As short-staffed as everything is, they can justify a multi-million dollar budget and taking officers out of law enforcement positions and put them in social work programs. Oh wait, they can't, that's why it's all happening under the cover of darkness.

Throw on top of that the fact that they bungled the Bisard investigation (you won't read that in the report) as well, and you're talking about reshaping how merit board members get voted in? LOL, alrighty then.

I've got one. Let's make everybody shave their heads so they all look the same. Because everybody knows bald people don't commit crimes.

TwoDomeTown said...

Well Marco, I won't pretend I can convince you of anything here but I will at least provide some reasoning for ideas, which are, by the way, some of the only ones I've seen put forward from the community other than a lot of bitching and complaining. I will, however, totally disregard your comments about Candi Perry and Piland. The management made it perfectly clear that they wanted Piland fired. Candi Perry was indicted on October 28, 2009. Several months before Straub was even appointed. I will say that your argument rings a little hollow - sort of like the argument that Obama has lost the independents because he is not liberal enough.

Owensby made it clear in his interview that he nor anyone else in the rank and file at IMPD thinks there is a problem with the department. I doubt the department is wanting Straub to go because he hasn't done enough to clean the department up.

I believe that IMPD has become a corrupt organization. That doesn't mean that all the officers are corrupt, it means that the organization's vision and mission have turned from an external focus to an internal focus. Public service agencies cannot have an internal focus and be effective instruments for the communities they serve. When the focus changes to internal, power structures are formed and as new generations of officers are brought into the culture, they know only the internal focus and learn how to navigate the power structures that have formed.

All of the points on my short list are directed at doing one simple thing - breaking down the power structures that exist and returning an external focus. When Piland was reinstated, he summed up the culture in a few short words - "It's all about us."

Before the department can return to an external focus, it has to become legally and morally compatible with the community it serves. The drive home cars are a violation of IRS code, work permits allow for too much corporate influence and favoritism and add to the internal power structures. Gene Tomey is a great example of this. The cars create more problems than they solve because they are a constant source of complaints from the public (as well as a huge waste of resources). IMPD ought to be responsible for every part of the county - they have for years refused runs on the interstates when there were only one or two troopers in the whole county yet the cars are constantly seen speeding on the interstates when the officers are off duty.

I don't think it is possible to simply write new general orders to regulate the department into compliance. There have been orders on the books for years about the number of officers allowed to mark out for dinner at the same place, random drug testing, communication via unauthorized radios, etc... but they are mostly ignored and not enforced. Straub has instituted a professional standards unit but it doesn't seem to have any teeth.

And let me say this about uniforms. Police departments, especially large ones, have become excessively militarized over the last 20 years or so. There is no real justification for BDUs. As the uniforms have changed, the police have become less approachable more and more daunting to normal citizens. As for criminals, it might be that it has caused them increase their level of weaponry and tactics in response but that is another subject. Police officers should look like professionals in their uniforms, not weekend warriors or baseball coaches.

Some may wonder why I didn't specifically address the FOP as a problem to be addressed. The FOP is truely the voice of the rank and file. If some perceive the union to be a problem, it is an effect, not a cause. By aligning the vision and goals of the department to those of the community, the FOP will reflect those ideals. It is not the union that shapes the officers but the officers that shape the union.

You were critical of my ideas. What are yours and reasoning behind them?