City-County councilor defends calling IMPD ‘lily-white’

A city-county council member is calling IMPD lily white after 25 of its promotions were given to white officers. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – As the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) promoted a number of its own, one city-county council member called the ceremony, “lily-white.”

The promotion took place at the library in downtown Indianapolis Friday. Mayor Joe Hogsett had a message. “That’s why I’m so proud of you today,” Mayor Hogsett said.

But not everyone is. “It’s a profound disappoint with respect to the diversity that the department is exhibiting,” City-County Council Member Stephen Clay said.

(Provided Photo/IMPD)
(Provided Photo/IMPD)

Clay is fired up over the promotional class. 28 people moved up the ranks.

25 are white, one black, one Hispanic, and one person who characterizes themselves as other. “Preserving the status quo by advancing lily-white department,” Clay said.

82 percent of the department is white, 14 percent black and three percent Hispanic. Minority numbers well below what U.S. Census shows is the city’s breakdown. “We’re talking about a city whose police department ought to be reflective of the citizenship that it serves,” Clay said.

Not everyone agrees. Clay represents part the city’s northeast side. 24-Hour News 8 went there, and asked neighbors what they think of Clay’s comments.

“It’s not about a color of an officer, or anything,” Indianapolis resident, Tiana Clay said. “It’s about the heart that the officer has towards his people, towards his community.”

“I think that we have to have qualified individuals, but we should be able to find qualified individuals of all colors,” Indianapolis resident, Kevin Jones said.

IMPD said it’s trying to do just that.

While IMPD recognizes and understands the community’s concern for diversity to include race, gender and ethnicity within IMPD, we have traditionally been challenged to attract minority candidates to participate and complete the promotional process.  We welcome the input of community groups, City/County Councilors, and our own workforce to develop strategies for increased participation in the promotional process. After every promotional process, we look at national best practices to determine the best way to assess the readiness of officers to be promoted into higher ranks.  We have worked with several vendors, in regards to our promotional process, to ensure the testing and assessment phases are inclusive and fair for all that choose to participate.”

The process is what Clay said needs to change. He’s liked to see a board that weighs in on promotions, change its members to term limits.

As for his lily-white statement. “I have no apologies to make with to the language, that was very deliberate in my characterization of the police department,” Clay said. “If you think I’m wrong, and if you want to prove me wrong, than do better.”

Candidates underwent a more than a year process to reach Friday’s promotional ceremony. Candidates had to take tests, and rank against other officers. The chief, and merit board then use the final score to help determine who receives the promotion.

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