Landmark Police Reform Bill Heads To Indiana Governor's Desk

Mar 16, 2021

2021 police reform legislation was crafted over the last year following protests around the country against police misconduct and racial inequity.
Credit (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Landmark police reform legislation is just the stroke of a pen away from becoming law.

The measure, crafted over the last year following protests around the country against police misconduct and racial inequity, was unanimously approved by the Indiana Senate Tuesday.

The bill, HB 1006, requires all police to undergo de-escalation training and makes it easier for the state to de-certify those who commit misconduct, even without a criminal conviction. De-certification prevents someone from being employed as a police officer in the state.

Sen Mike Young (R-Indianapolis) said the measure also restricts police’s use of chokeholds by classifying them as deadly force.

“The same as a gun," Young said. "An officer may only use deadly force in certain circumstances.”

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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The legislation also includes $70 million to improve facilities at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, which trains a majority of police across the state. It requires police departments to share full employment records with other agencies – an effort to keep bad cops from easily moving jobs. And it criminalizes police officers who shut off their body cameras to conceal a crime.

Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) said the bill was developed in part by the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and has the support of groups including the NAACP, the Indiana Black Expo, the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, the Indiana Public Defender Council and every major law enforcement organization in the state.

“No way do I feel that this is the answer to all issues," Melton said. "However, I think this is a very good first step to address police and community relations.”

The bill now heads to the governor for his signature.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.