Feb 2, 2024 - News

IMPD Black History Month badges may miss the celebration

IMPD's Black History Month badge

IMPD's Black History Month badge. Rendering: IMPD

An IMPD officer-led goal to commemorate Black History Month with commemorative badges may not happen this month after all.

Why it matters: Even though work on the black, red and green badges began last year — and was approved by former chief Randal Taylor — they may not arrive before the end of February.

  • The mishap is disappointing for the more than 100 IMPD officers who paid for and ordered the badges and expected to be wearing them by now.
  • Meanwhile, community stakeholders are frustrated, saying the mishandling of the collaboration between the department and the Minority Police Officers Association is about much more than badges.

What they're saying: "It's about respect," Lionel Rush, president of the Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, told Axios. "You're talking about a department with a fraught and difficult history. So this badge issue is symbolic and reminds Black officers of that history."

Between the lines: The initial order for the badges was submitted on Dec. 21, but the Indy Public Safety Foundation didn't formally place the order until mid-January.

  • An IMPD spokesperson tells Axios part of the delay was related to a verification process — the badges include each officer's identification number and rank.

State of play: Between the casting process for each badge and the shipping time, turnaround after placing the order is about 6-8 weeks, meaning the badges will arrive during the last week of February in a best-case scenario.

Zoom in: Acting IMPD chief Chris Bailey is one of the 105 officers who had ordered a badge as of Thursday, and expressed excitement about wearing it during a recent press event.

  • "We want to celebrate the contributions (of) Black officers that made Indianapolis safer and better, both in the past and the ones that still contribute today. And our hope is to recruit more minority officers to contribute to be a part of the change in the future. So that's what the badge represents," he said.
  • "Hopefully we will see that on officers' chests in February. But if not, we will still celebrate."

Yes, but: Rush believes the badge issue may have a bigger effect than IMPD realizes going forward.

  • "When you come to a group like (us) and say we want police-community relations, well, you gotta have more than lip service. And when you do things like this, it doesn't look like you want police-community relations," he said. "That's why the badges were a symbol of something much, much larger."

What's next: IMPD officials say they're working with the Minority Police Officers Association to determine the best time to have officers wear the badges — maybe throughout a different month, around Juneteenth, yearlong or another option.

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