Jan 24, 2024 - News

IMPD acting chief ready to take action

IMPD interim chief Chris Bailey speaks during an Indiana Crime Guns Task Force event in December. Photo: Courtesy of IMPD

While the word "acting" may precede his title, Chris Bailey tells Axios that "active" may be a better way to describe his role as the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's top cop.

Driving the news: Bailey — a 25-year veteran — was named acting chief earlier this month, filling a void created when Randal Taylor stepped down at the end of last year.

  • A little more than a week into his new assignment, Bailey caught up with Axios to discuss his vision for the department and why "sitting still isn't an option."

Why it matters: The IMPD is undergoing a season of change as the city grapples with issues like gun violence, youth crime prevention and calls for revamped community policing stemming from 2020's civil unrest.

The big picture: Bailey said transparency, technology, violent crime and mental health are at the top of his lengthy list of priorities.

  • Bailey said he wants to beef up transparency by creating a website where community members can easily access all of IMPD's crime statistics, which he called a long-standing issue. "Other departments are able to do it, and we need to do it."
  • He added that IMPD needs to get more tech-savvy as a whole, and he'll push to add more professional staff who can help officers navigate the digital world.
  • Acknowledging the heartbreaking youth homicide numbers the city recorded at the end of 2023, Bailey also noted an uptick in "self-defense shootings" last year. He said he wants to tackle that eagerness to reach for a gun head-on.

Meanwhile, on mental health, Bailey wants to make sure local agencies equipped to serve citizens in crisis are being properly engaged and empowered by the department.

  • "This issue of dealing with those with mental illness in our community has been cast upon our officers over a period of decades. Now it's time to work with our partners to try to get that off of our plate so that we can focus on the thing that law enforcement was truly meant to do," he said.

The intrigue: Bailey's appointment came with confirmation that he was taking his name out of the running as Taylor's full-time replacement.

  • Bailey tells Axios that decision was motivated by a desire to spend more time with his family.
  • "I was thinking about where I was at with my family life, specifically with my daughter's volleyball and things like that. So that's where my head was," he said.

The bottom line: It's unclear how long Bailey's run as acting chief will last. According to Mayor Joe Hogsett's office, the search for a new leader continues, but no timeframe for naming a replacement has been given.

  • Bailey said when that time comes, he stands ready to take on whatever assignment he is given next and has no plans of leaving the department.
  • "I don't know what that will be at this point. But I just know that I feel like I have more work to do here," Bailey said.
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