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House Committee Passes 'Historic' Police Reform Legislation

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville)

Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Danville) presents the police reform legislation he authored to a House committee. (Screenshot Indiana General Assembly live stream)

An Indiana House committee unanimously approved a “historic” police reform bill Tuesday – one that has the support of law enforcement and groups like the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus and the NAACP.

The measure makes several changes. For instance, it requires police departments to share full employment records with other agencies – an effort to keep bad cops from easily moving jobs. That’s something Indiana State Police Lt. Brad Hoffeditz cited as vital. He said in his experience, many police departments aren’t forthcoming.

“Very frequently, the answer we would get if asked if the individual was employed by them or if there’s anything else they would like to share with us is 'Yeah, we employed them,'" Hoffeditz said. "And that’s it.”

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

The bill also requires de-escalation training for all police officers. It treats chokeholds as deadly force – meaning officers who use one will be treated the same as officers who shoot someone. It criminalizes police officers who shut off their body cameras to conceal a crime. And the legislation allows the state training board to “decertify” officers who commit misconduct, meaning they couldn’t be police officers anymore.

Indiana Public Defender Council executive director Bernice Corley said the bill will help build trust in the community.

“Any successful society relies on trust – trust in the system that governs; trust that that system will be fair,” Corley said.

The bill now goes to the full House.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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