Public Safety in Indianapolis
Trust in Public Safety in Indianapolis is at an all-time low, and murders are at an all-time high.
Our mayor inherited a city suffering from deadly violence and murders seven years ago and wants a third chance at getting it right for his ‘legacy.’ He laments his lack of progress on anything but his own failings. As a former US Attorney, I voted for him, hoping he had the ability to turn things around. With a background in federal prosecution, he knew how we could make the changes needed.
In just seven years, Joe has almost doubled the murders that he started with, and there is no one but him to blame.
Pointing fingers is easy. Solutions are hard.
Public Safety isn’t just simply addressing violence, it is preventing violence before it happens. It is addressing mental health issues. It ensures adequate housing. It provides jobs that can provide for families. It is guaranteeing public transportation to these jobs is reliable. And yes, it is also providing policing that the community can trust.
These solutions may take time, which is why a plan needs to be implemented on DAY ONE. Not to be studied for years, only to be forgotten about until the next election cycle. To take a note out of my playbook, we need to learn to “Fail Fast.” Look for solutions, implement them, and identify what works and what does not. We should not be afraid to try because we are too afraid to fail. And we should not be so enamored with our own solutions that we refuse to admit when it just isn’t working.
Public Safety Plan for Indianapolis
- Introduce Civilian-Based Crisis Response to address mental health crises, homelessness issues, and wellness checks.
- Rebuild Transparent Community-Based Policing, including more civilian oversight, mandated release of body-worn camera footage within a short timeframe, and accountability to the public.
- Ending the war on drugs with a focus on ending addiction and overdose.
- Stopping gun trafficking at the crossroads of America by working with the US Attorney and programs like Project Safe Neighborhoods.
- Create a better model to minimize ‘Use of Force’ and create a de-escalation model.
Civilian-Based Crisis Response Team
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is 200 officers short of their hiring guidelines. We have the funding to hire today, and while advertising as far away as Portland, Oregon asking officers to transfer in at a higher salary with a first-year bonus and moving costs, we still cannot hire enough officers. Speaking directly with folks in the police force, it is clear they do not wish to be marriage counselors. They do not want to deal with ‘junkies looking for a ‘fix.’ They don’t want to deal with the homeless. And they do not want to be mental health counselors.
Let us be clear, as a trained clinician, Mr. Marsiglio does not look at folks suffering from addiction as ‘junkies’; the focus is to reduce harm. The focus should be to find empathetic solutions and know these are medical issues, not criminal ones. The focus should be to see the unhomed and find a warm bed for them. To see a couple arguing and to realize that this may not be a matter that needs to be addressed by a police officer. And when someone is in a mental health crisis, the crisis may only greaten when confronted by armed intervention.
On Day One, we will create an office creating a civilian-based crisis team with the understanding that it may not be the ideal solution to every problem, but that in most of the issues above, an armed officer is rarely the right solution.
Rebuilding Transparency and Trust
We need more civilians involved with giving input on how they would like to see THEIR communities policed. Overpolicing and surveillance from the likes of License Plate Readers and Shot Spotters that also can listen in on conversations may not be the solutions community members want. Mr. Marsiglio’s involvement as President of the Quality of Life Public Safety Community Action Team, as well as Co-Chair of the NESCO’s Crime Reduction Team, has given him a front seat to residents of our East Side that have said that without trust and transparency, these same residents are reluctant to use these technologies that may save the lives of them and their loved ones. Weak leadership gives the appearance of ill will even when this is not the intent.
Likewise, Body-Worn Camera footage should be available to the public in a mandated time frame when use of force has been used. Restoring trust means transparency in our jobs. While we may not want to surveil neighborhoods, we do not forget our responsibility to be open about the potential abuses, mandate the limits of the uses of these technologies, and legislate the abuses so that no one can claim that unlawful surveillance is a part of their job.
Rebuilding trust should not require a six-year study to implement a plan that a former administration had studied in depth. In the case of Body-Worn Cameras, in late 2015, former Mayor Greg Ballard had asked the city council to implement this policy before he left office, only to be asked that major policy decisions be delayed until the newly elected administration be sworn in. SIX YEARS LATER and numerous nationally televised incidents later, Joe Hogsett implemented the plan handed to him by the former administration. Mr. Marsiglio has been at the table as a director of the Citizens Alliance for Public Safety for years, pleading for this to be implemented.
Statement by the candidate: “Please do not confuse this with a lack of support for the police. More often than not, it is the politicians, through their lack of openness and willpower, that erodes our trust in our public servants. Our police have a formidable job and have to make split-second decisions — however, better training, transparency, and direction from the leadership above in the form of General Orders and direct engagement can make this a department that our citizens can begin to trust again. — ccm”
Ending The War on Drugs
No one wants to minimize the harm drugs have done to our society. Because of this, Mr. Marsiglio has been active in harm-reduction activities across Indianapolis, focusing on reducing overdose deaths. From organizing and training basic first aid skills, training on the use of Narcan/Naloxone, and to installing publicly accessible sites where one can receive these life-saving drugs as well as other harm reduction tools, we should be focused on this as opposed to arresting those purely for issues of self-harm.
To this point, I would instruct officers on day one that marijuana-based offenses be decriminalized immediately, working with both the city-county council to ratify this, as well as working with legislators in the statehouse to permanently decriminalize the use as it has been done in more than half the states within our country.
As a recovering alcoholic who has not had a drink in almost a decade, Clif understands that even legalized substances can be deadly. No one should be given a break simply because they are an addict while committing other crimes. However, the crime of addiction should be stricken from our law.
Stopping gun trafficking
Within Indianapolis, gun violence is often a byproduct of the gun trade. We have had opportunities to work with the US Attorney to reduce this trafficking by implementing Project Safe Neighborhoods — a project that our city has mostly ignored. While our city is a part of this, it requires buy-in by city councilors who often do not want pushback from inviting federal agents. By law, the only criminals affected by this law are those possessing guns that are proven to have been used in violent crime, have been stolen and trafficked, or have been purchased by straw buyers. Again, no one wants to bring in more policing. However, violent crime needs to be stopped.
We know that most of the homicides in this city revolve around gun trafficking and the more brutal drug trade, such as opioids and fentanyl, often hand in hand. Immediate enforcement of these would save the lives of more of our sons and daughters caught up in the trade.
A More Humane Use of Force and Deescalation Model
De-escalation starts with trust and respect. The word respect often means two different things — to an authority, it often means, “If you don’t respect me as an authority, I will not respect you as a human being.” Respect from the community will never happen until they know that respect as a human being is unconditional and irrevocable.
We need to do better. If any of our officers cannot respect any citizen as a human being, they will not be officers.
For the officers reading this — your job is hard. And it is dangerous. And we should respect this. As someone that has followed this calling, you may have a bad day and you are human. I am at the academy and I work with your recruiting staff. I have gone on ride-alongs. I have worked with the ATF. I understand the risks you take. However, our duty whether as an elected official or a public safety officer is to show respect — even when others have not shown this courtesy.
With that, we need to find better ways of communication and de-escalation. And I will require our police force to undergo further deescalation training.
Draft 1.5 — January 7, 2023
I have had nearly a decade of work with law enforcement. As a youth, I was a victim of police violence — one where my own father could not believe that an officer of the law would do something to harm others. He repeatedly asked what I had done to provoke the situation. At the time, I was an Eagle Scout candidate in the Boy Scouts, I was an active member of my church, and I was a student at a local university while still a junior in high school. And I also had purple hair, which apparently made a rural officer believe I was a degenerate.
After a decade of anger that changed absolutely nothing, I realized that I could work towards a solution, or you could scream obscenities to officers that may not be the enemy I believe they were. I have also realized that some of my best friends work in policing agencies, trying to do what I am doing but from within their department. And I realize there are more good folk than bad, but progress needs to be made. As with all systematic problems, the issue lies with the system more than the people involved. My goal is to improve the system for all, but in the end, my focus is on the citizens of the great city of Indianapolis.
I am a member of two public safety boards, presiding over one. I have been a long member and volunteer of the Public Safety Citizens Academy, helping to write the curriculum and to organize events with our students. In the fall of 2021, I was asked to participate in a project with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms to understand the process of gun violence, gun trafficking, and the law enforcement involved with this process. To this end, I was invited to participate further in Washington, DC, at the federal level late last year. Our training involved live-fire explosives, weapons training, and yes…the dull run-of-the-mill understanding of federal firearms licensing, how a standard 4473 form for a firearms transaction is misused through straw purchases, and how federal law does not allow the digitalization of said forms. With this, our small group of interns could speak in depth with our US Attorney about the pitfalls of policing.
Training With Fake Guns
Graduation with the Chief