Zionsville Police Chief Michael Spears said he aims to introduce changes to the Zionsville Police Dept. in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“What happened in Minneapolis was absolutely wrong” Spears said during a livestream Q&A on the Town’s Youtube page. “As a police department … none of us find that proper by any stretch of the imagination.”
On May 25, in Minneapolis, George Floyd, a black 46-year-old man, was killed in police custody. His death, and others like it, have sparked protests throughout the nation and internationally. Recently, Zionsville residents and officials, including Spears, attended a vigil at Zionsville Town Hall to honor George Floyd.
“The good news for everyone is, the majority of the things that are described in these national pleas for correction already exist hear,” Spears said. “However, I do want to put some stronger language in about some issues to help everyone understand the way force should be used and how it should reported.”
In response to growing public calls for changes in policing, Spears said he would create a use-of-force board. Spears said the board would examine the department’s use of force in general, not just the use of guns or other weaponry.
“The use of force is a broad continuum,” Spears said. “It can really be anything from what we sometimes call command-bearing or presence or just language all the way up to the use of deadly force.”
Spears said any time a ZPD officer is involved in a situation where force is used, they are required to call a supervisor and medical personnel to the scene if an injury occurred, a policy that existed before the protests. The supervisor will prepare a report that will be reviewed by the use-of-force board.
The board will consist of the captain of the department, the lieutenant in charge of training and the lieutenant in charge of “the administrative functions of the organization, including investigations and at some level are reviewed by those who look at internal affairs issues,” Spears said. The police chief will then review the report.
But Spears said he believes in the importance of civilian oversight.
“Those use-of-force incidents will be provided to the police commission, which is a group of citizens, and they’ll have an opportunity to look at what has occurred within Zionsville, how we’ve handled it and weigh in if they have concerns or issues.”
Spears also said he would task the department with including every use of force in its monthly report. The report, Spears said, would be sent to elected officials, ZPD officers and made available to the public through the Town of Zionsville’s website.
In addition, Spears said he hopes to increase the diversity in the department by advertising position openings in new outlets and markets outside of Zionsville.