|Public Safety Director Troy Riggs (left) and IMPD Chief Rick Hite (Indianapolis Star Photo)
When Advance Indiana sought to obtain a police incident report documenting the citizen's 911 call and the computer automated dispatch ("CAD") record, city legal denied the request, claiming that no police incident report existed for the incident and that the CAD record was an investigative report exempt from disclosure under Indiana's Access to Public Records Law. Advance Indiana appealed that denial to the Public Access Counselor, but in the meantime, a similar public records request was submitted to the Marion Co. Sheriff's Department. Almost at the same time the Public Access Counselor sided with city legal's decision to deny access to the records, the Sheriff's Department produced both the CAD record and the audio recordings of the 911 call and related dispatch communications to police to Advance Indiana. The audio recordings are quite troubling. Confusion seemed to set in as police dispatch and officers discussed the situation in repeated back and forth matters. The call initially got passed off to State Police, who passed it back to IMPD. Incredibly, the police were told to make a traffic stop of the citizen and not Capt. Burton. One police dispatcher was noticeably more concerned about protecting Capt. Burton than acting on Joseph's 911 call. The citizen was the bad guy, not the police officer reported by the citizen to be driving recklessly at high rates of speed on a non-emergency commute downtown.
When Advance Indiana contacted Lori White, director of the Citizens Police Complaint Board, about the Board pursuing an investigation of the matter, she at first seemed to take the matter very seriously. She confirmed CAD records substantiated at least part of the allegations made by the police sources who spoke to Advance Indiana on the condition of anonymity out of fear of retaliation. She later told Advance Indiana the matter was being handled through an internal affairs investigation rather than as a citizen complaint. Nearly two months have passed and White will no longer discuss the matter, referring all questions to IMPD spokesman Lt. Rich Riddle, who has refused to respond to Advance Indiana's requests for information on the status of the internal affairs investigation. Meanwhile, confidence and morale within the department among many officers has reached new lows. Police sources don't believe a credible internal affairs investigation was conducted to determine whether laws or department rules and policies were broken.
It is absolutely stunning that the department would handle a matter this serious in such a cavalier manner after the fatal-alcohol collision involving former IMPD Officer David Bisard. That long and sad chapter for IMPD wound up costing city taxpayers close to $10 million in legal settlements paid out to the victims and their families and court costs associated with prosecuting Bisard. Officer Bisard was driving his police car at a high rate of speed while not responding to a police emergency when he crashed into a group of motorcycles, killing one and critically injuring two other motorcyclists. Bisard was not administered a portable breathalyzer test at the scene of the accident because police investigating the accident claimed he didn't appear to be intoxicated, and a subsequent blood/alcohol test administered hours later registering more than two times the legal limit was botched so badly the test result showing he was highly intoxicated were initially thrown out by a judge before later being admitted as evidence. It is equally disturbing that the same Indianapolis media, which covered the Bisard ordeal non-stop over a several year period, has completely ignored this story. Come to think of it, not a single member of the Indianapolis City-County Council has called for public accountability either. But, hey, we just hosted another Final Four and our city really shined. That's all that really matters, right?