Feb 5, 2024 - News

Understanding the increase in Indy police shootings

Data: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department; Note: IMPD has recorded one police shooting in 2024 as of Feb. 2; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department; Note: IMPD has recorded one police shooting in 2024 as of Feb. 2; Chart: Axios Visuals

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is seeking a research partner to help it understand why the number of people shot by officers has been increasing.

Why it matters: IMPD reported 18 people shot by officers in 2023 — the highest total in nearly a decade and up from just four people shot in the year before.

Driving the news: The department wants at least three proposals to consider from potential partners, and an IMPD spokesperson told Axios it is waiting on one last pitch to come in.

The big picture: During a recent press event, acting IMPD chief Chris Bailey said 2023 was a deadly year for police killings across the nation, referencing a USA Today report that said a record 1,329 people were killed by law enforcement officers last year, according to Mapping Police Violence.

  • "We wanted to get more in-depth in that evaluation. And that's why we're looking for a research partner to come alongside us to look at training policy and those specific incidents," Bailey said.

Zoom in: Bailey said once a partner is chosen, Indianapolis residents can expect the analysis to be a lengthy — but transparent — process.

  • "It won't be a process that's a month long or two months long. It'll be at least a year long, and it will be a public report. That report will not be hidden," he said.

By the numbers: In 2023, 11 of the suspects IMPD police shot were allegedly carrying handguns. Two were unarmed.

  • 16 of the suspects were Black men, while one was a Black woman and one was a white man.

State of play: So far in 2024, IMPD has recorded one police shooting. Investigators said an exchange of gunfire following an east side traffic stop on Jan. 25 ended with the fatal shooting of 48-year-old Raphael Nafees Dekemper.

Flashback: The last time IMPD's use of force policy underwent a significant change was in 2020 in response to calls for reform and police brutality protests. The updated policy replaced guidelines from August 2016.

  • The 2020 policy, approved under former IMPD chief Randal Taylor, emphasizes de-escalation tactics and says officers should only use force proportionate to the circumstances of a situation. It also included a ban on chokeholds and other tactics that may restrict breathing.
  • Before that guidelines allowed officers to use "reasonable force" if they believed it necessary.
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