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New laws developed pertain to Gary police behavior

New laws developed pertain to Gary police behavior

The calendar for the Gary Common Council always grows during budget season – September and October. Now, the council may have to work overtime to handle 17 public safety ordinances that came from the mayor’s office and also demand immediate attention.

state leaders
Mayor Jerome Prince

When Mayor Jerome Prince announced in April a partnership with the Indiana State Police to help guide a review of the Gary Police Department’s operations and procedures, the mayor and ISP Superintendent Doug Carter described it as historic. “They are not coming in here like they did before – arresting people and handing out tickets,” Mayor Prince said.

“I am willing to commit a tremendous amount of our assets and resources to help the city of Gary,” Supt. Carter said back then.

Those 17 ordinances are the output of the ISP’s review, looking at the police department from the inside and at the City of Gary’s Municipal Code, the bible for city government. The 17 pieces of legislation contain amendments to 15 current sections governing responsibilities the mayor, the city council, police chief, the board of public works and the police civil service commission have towards the proper functioning of the police department.

The remaining two ordinances add new sections to the municipal code covering the police department.

Discipline of police officers account for more than half of the proposed legislative pieces and is a responsibility of the police chief, board of public works, and police civil service commission.

At the August 24th council meeting where the ordinances were assigned to the council’s public safety committee, Councilman Clorius Lay noted, “The amendments seem to reduce powers of the police civil service commission and expand disciplinary powers of the police chief.”

Council president Bill Godwin said some of the ordinances seemed to be interdependent. “I believe some are tethered. We need to know. What if we vote for 1 but not the other?”

The council will get answers to their questions at two public safety committee hearings scheduled for 5:30pm Wednesday, August 31 and 5:30pm Thursday, September 7 in the council chambers at City Hall.

Administration officials will be in attendance to explain and defend the ordinances. Likely they will also be questioned by members of the police department and the public.

Councilman Ron Brewer chairs the public safety committee. He said, “I want to hear from the administration and state police. I will take as much time as needed to hear all of the ordinances.”

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