FWPD adapting to new Indiana law designed to weed out ‘bad cops’

Local News

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — A new law will help stop ‘bad cops’ from bouncing from city to city and county to county in Indiana.

“It’s a noble profession even though some would argue that,” Fort Wayne Police Captain Kurtis Letz said. “I believe it is and anything to retain that high level of professionalism we are all for it.”

During Thursday’s Fort Wayne Board of Public Safety meeting, Fort Wayne Police Captain Kurtis Letz spoke to the board about HB 1006 and how the new law will bring more transparency throughout law enforcement agencies in the state. Letz believes the law will hold officers to a higher standard.

With the new law, departments are able to share officers’ previous employment records with other agencies throughout the state. In the past, departments were limited on what information they could share about officers” records.

Letz says the law is to help prevent officers from being in trouble with one agency, resigning in lieu of being fired, and then moving to another agency to continue their law enforcement career.

HB 1006 went into effect on July 1, 2021. The law also includes the following language:

  • Defines “chokehold” and prohibits the use of chokeholds under certain circumstances
  • Mandatory de-escalation training
  • Creates a penalty for officers who turn body cameras off with intent to conceal

All Indiana law enforcement officers are state-certified, like doctors and lawyers. The law mandates all police agencies report any considerable violations of the law or propensity to commit crimes by officers to the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Board.

Prior to the new law if an officer was convicted of a serious crime like a felony they would not be able to be law enforcement officers because of the felony conviction but not decertify them. This new law would also decertify them.

Officers could also not receive more than two misdemeanor charges on their record before the state would seek to decertify an officer. Now the law only requires one misdemeanor or the officer to demonstrate a tendency to repeatedly commit crimes. For example, if an officer gets suspended several times with the same offense but does not face criminal charges that could play into the officer losing certification.

But there are still several items in the law that need to be strengthened and ironed out.

“A lot of this is new,” Letz said. “So we don’t know what their (board) interpretation of what is dangerous and what the propensity to commit a crime and what that takes to meet that threshold.”

Also during Thursday’s meeting, FWPD officer Kevin Peeper was suspended for 60 days for having an inappropriate relationship with a confidential informant.

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