By Kayla Molander | WRTV Indianapolis
INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett and Chief of Police Randal Taylor have agreed to implement police reforms suggested by local faith leaders.
Over the last six months, nonprofit organization Faith In Indiana has conducted hundreds of community discussions and studied policing around the country in an effort to improve policies here in the Circle City.
Their findings and suggestions were presented to city leaders and members of the public at their “Fund our Futures” summit Tuesday night at New Era Church on the north side.
“We believe that every Hoosier needs care, so this should be a smooth transition from the call, to 911 to the actual care that’s being delivered. Hoosiers need help, not handcuffs,” said Shawn Walton, Faith in Indiana community chair leader.
The group has asked Hogsett to come up with a plan to create and fund a robust clinician-led crisis response emergency team in the next six months. Hogsett agreed to the proposal.
“I’ll be encouraging the inclusion of funds for a robust pilot program in that regard as early as the 2023 operating budget in the city of Indianapolis,” Hogsett said.
Taylor agrees police are not the ones who should be responding to mental health crises.
“I’ve always said I don’t necessarily think it’s the police department’s job to handle all the mental health issues, but unfortunately, there’s no one else stepping up,” Taylor said.
Taylor made his own commitments at the summit. Faith in Indiana asked him to pledge to create a way of tracking all IMPD pedestrian and traffic stops by race. He agreed.
For Faith in Indiana volunteer Lena Harvey, these steps toward change bring hope.
Harvey has had her own mental health struggles in the past. Working to locate the care she needed added an additional burden in a difficult time, which is why she advocates for better access.
“It really needs to be something that we have right here, right now, for every Hoosier. It needs to be accessible for every person who has a functioning body and brain and has a crisis that they didn’t expect, and we could possibly prevent a lot of crime that way,” Harvey said.
Working for reform is Harvey’s way of trying to build a better future for her children.
“They’ve had to watch us as we’ve failed them in a lot of ways, so I think in order for me to feel like a better person, a better mom, what better place for me to be than here, asking for something that my son will probably need one day,” she said.