Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb is ordering the use of body cameras by all Indiana State Police troopers by spring 2021.
The announcement came Tuesday during a speech by Holcomb that focused on racial justice. He said the coronavirus pandemic has worsened a number of inequities faced by Black Hoosiers.
“It’s in this environment that we’ve seen a number of unarmed Black men and women killed, culminating in an officer kneeling on the neck of Mr. George Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds, until his last breath was snuffed out,” Holcomb said.
During the speech, the Republican governor highlighted local governments from across the state that have already enacted body camera policies. Among the cities mentioned was Jeffersonville.
Last month, members of the Jeffersonville City Council committed to a 5-year, $522,000 body cam program. The program will equip the 91-officer department with 75 cameras.
The council’s decision came on the heels of protests in the city after Malcolm Williams, a Black man, was shot and killed by an ISP Trooper Clay Boley on April 29. Williams was the passenger in a vehicle that was stopped for not having functioning tail lights.
Boley ultimately shot Williams six times after claiming he fired first. Williams had a gun in his possession, but Antoinette Webb – who was driving the vehicle – said Williams never pointed the gun at the officer or fired it.
Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull eventually ruled that the shooting was justified after reviewing an ISP investigation, and announced that Boley would face no criminal charges. Webb challenged the findings of the investigation. Since neither Boley nor his vehicle were equipped with a camera, no known video evidence of the shooting exists.
ISP officials released a statement Tuesday following Holcomb’s announcement.
“The Indiana State Police is looking forward to putting this new equipment into the field for troopers, Capitol Police Officers, and their supervisors to use during their day-to-day service to our citizens,” the statement said. “The body worn cameras are not without limitations, but the State Police will use them to their fullest capabilities as they provide law-enforcement services in all 92 Indiana counties.”
Holcomb also introduced other initiatives that deal with police reforms and diversity. He said the state must use the current cultural environment as an opportunity to change and expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
A new position – the chief equity, inclusion and opportunity office – was announced as part of the effort to drive change. The position will be a member of the governor’s cabinet and focus on promoting diversity throughout the state government.
Holcomb said one department that needs more diversity is ISP, noting that police forces often don’t represent the communities they serve. Black people make up 9.8% of Indiana’s population, but just 5.8% of the state’s police force.
“We doubled the minority representation among [police academy] graduates between 2016 and 2019, from about 14% to 28%,” Holcomb said. “So I know this can be done. I know the momentum can continue.”
He also called for a review of the ISP’s use-of-force training.
“This can confirm good practices, but it can also help us modernize how we train our officers,” Holcomb said. “We’ll look at areas like use of force de-escalation training and implicit bias training.”
Holcomb also announced his intention to collaborate with legislators and law enforcement agencies from around the state to work on sentencing reform and jail overcrowding.