Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Bryan Roach will retire from the agency at the end of the year.
A 28-year veteran of IMPD, Roach has served as chief since Hogsett appointed him in January 2017. Roach will end his career having held every rank with IMPD since starting in 1991 as a patrol officer.
"The citizens of Indianapolis have always been invested in and supportive of their police department," Roach said in a statement. "The impact of this support has been immeasurable in my life and career, and I cannot begin to thank you all enough. Your kind words, deeds, and advice allowed me to be a better Chief."
Roach also announced he has accepted a job outside of the police department and city government. However, he has yet to announce what his next job will be.
"Chief Roach has proven to be a deliberate and dedicated leader throughout his nearly three decades with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, driven to make our city safer for all residents by working collaboratively, addressing the root causes of crime and leading his officers through a return to a community-focused policing model," Hogsett said in a statement.
Roach's toughest test as chief
came only about six months into his tenure, when two IMPD officers shot and killed 45-year-old Aaron Bailey in June 2017 following a traffic stop in the middle of the night. The officers said they thought Bailey reached for a weapon, but no weapon was found.
Roach said he didn't believe the shooting was justified and suspended the officers without pay. He recommended their termination to the civilian merit board, but the board said the officers didn't violate department policies.
Black residents in Indianapolis were outraged over the shooting of an unarmed Black man, but there was also a sense that it wasn't just business as usual at the police department because of Roach's willingness to take a stand against two of his officers.
Roach also recommended the termination of an officer who punched a 17-year-old boy at Shortridge High School in September.
Under Roach, IMPD returned to so-called beat policing, where officers are responsible for a smaller geographical area, which ideally allows them to get more comfortable with the community — and vice versa.
Roach also oversaw the creation of the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team, an initiative focused on treating people with mental health issues, and helped the department move forward with a body camera trial for officers. (Hogsett has said IMPD will get body cameras in 2020.)
Roach will continue to serve as chief until the end of the year.
Taylor Schaffer, a spokesperson for the mayor's office, said it's "fair to say" the office will make announcements about department leadership "before the end of the year."
There will be pressure on Hogsett to appoint a Black chief of police, especially after Republican Jim Merritt said during the recent mayoral race he would appoint Bill Benjamin, a Black Democrat, if elected. Hogsett used that as an opportunity to express his confidence in Roach.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
Education, poverty and domestic violence are linked — especially for Black girls.
The less access a young woman has to education, the more likely she is to live in poverty, and the more likely she is to be a victim of domestic violence. For African American girls, school systems are often stacked against them, excluding them from the educational opportunities their white peers receive and setting them up to face lifelong consequences.
Author and activist Dr. Monique Morris described public schools as a "location for punishment" for African American girls, who she argues begin seeing educational disparities by the age of 5 in her January 2019 TED Talk. Morris explores the issue in her 2015 book, "Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools." The Domestic Violence Network (DVN) will host a screening of her documentary of the same name Dec. 12 at Central Library.
"Black girls are struggling to be seen, working to be free and fighting to be included in the landscape of prom
ise that a safe space to learn provides," Morris said in her TED Talk.
The statistics are jarring. According to Discipline Data for Girls in Public Schools from the Department of Education Office for Civil Rights in 2018, Black girls are six times more likely than their white female peers to be suspended, three times more likely to receive an in-school suspension, two times more likely to receive corporal punishment, three times more likely to be referred to law enforcement and four times more likely to be arrested at school.
Viral videos showing Black girls in elementary school being restrained by school disciplinary officers and a young African American woman being dragged in her seat by an officer during class illustrate this data and are disturbing reminders that Black girls often do not have the privilege of thinking of school as a "safe haven."
Colleen Curtin, Youth Program coordinator for the DVN and the organizer of the event, hopes the screening and discussion will inspire educators and lawmakers to consider the effects that the culture of discipline has on young women of color.
"It used to be that when you got in trouble at school," Curtin said, "you went to the office or saw the dean. Now, students are meeting with disciplinary officers. Those officers often feel compelled to treat these students like they were breaking the law on the street."
This criminalization of minor disciplinary infractions, which overwhelmingly affects students of color, can ultimately lead to disenfranchisement from an academic setting or expulsion. That disconnect from school leads to a lack of education, idle time for high-risk activities and limited job opportunities.
Curtin argues that many instances considered to be school discipline issues are not reflective of actual discipline problems, and instead reflect an attempt to communicate that students need help. When students are punished during their attempts to get help, it's counterproductive.
"Schools need to reevaluate how they handle disciplinary action," Curtin said. "Behavior is communication, and in people whose frontal lobes aren't fully developed, sometimes communication can seem like behavioral issues. If I was being punished every time I tried to communicate I needed help," Curtin added, "I would just stop asking for help."
If young Black girls learn from an early age that they can't go to teachers and school staff for help, not only are they risking academic struggles, they're more likely to stay silent about dangerous situations.
According to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Risk Assessment survey from 2018, Indiana ranks third in the nation for dating and sexual violence amongst teenagers.
"If schools criminalize discipline and push kids out, it can be really isolating," Curtin said. "A lot of times, it's hard for adults to wrap their heads around our kids dating, so instances of dating violence are referred to as 'bullying.' Many times, we're talking about dating violence."
In addition to the documentary, there will be a 30-minute panel discussion, which will consist of both a moderated conversation and an open forum with the audience. The panel will include community members such as Katie Blair of the ACLU and Crystal Haslett of the Metropolitan School District of Washington Township.
"I'm really expecting this conversation to be impactful," Curtin said. "We need to find a way to combat this violence and change the system so schools are a place for safe learning."
"Pushout" aims to give a voice to Black girls struggling with an educational system not designed for them to succeed, and the DVN aims to do the same through the screening.
"I would love for students to walk away from this screening with a plan for how they're going to combat this violence in their schools," Curtin said. "They have a powerful voice and they see what is happening in their school hallways. Our kids deserve to have a good education and feel safe at school, and that's not the case for all students."
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.
LISTENING TO OUR GIRLS
"Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools" will be screened at 6 p.m. Dec. 12 at Central Library, 40 E. St. Clair St.
The documentary dissects the relationship Black girls have with the education system.
In an effort to raise money for students and technology improvements, Martin University will hold the second annual give-a-thon Dec. 7.
The give-a-thon, "Challenging Minds, Changing Lives," will be 1-5 p.m. and broadcast on local TV and radio stations simultaneously from the Father Boniface Hardin Gathertorium on campus.
Since opening in 1977, Martin University has aided over 1,500 students achieve their dream of a higher education. The fundraiser aims to help even more students by raising enough money to cover full-ride scholarships and a laptop for each recipient.
"We'll know we've had a successful campaign if we raise $100,000," Gayle Spicer, donor relations manager, said. "That money
will go towards 50 full-tuition scholarships and laptops for the fall and spring semester, and the technology upgrades would include offering online classes."
Offering online courses and online registration could drastically improve accessibility for Martin University students.
"Most of our students are working adults," Spicer said. "They have families and a job from 8-5 p.m. Even though it's commendable that they do come to campus and go to class, it would be advantageous for them to be able to take an online class and study with their child at home and still be successful in school. To be able to offer online classes would help a lot of our students."
The give-a-thon will help Martin fulfill its mission of helping non-traditional students attain a post-secondary degree.
"I think it's really important with us being a staple of the community as a whole to provide a second chance for those who didn't have the opportunity to go to college right after high school," said Candace Pate, director of Institutional Advancement. "This can help people achieve their educational, professional and financial goals."
Co-hosts of the give-a-thon are Pastor James W. Jackson and Rev. Dr. Wayne L. Moore and featured performers are musicians Schawayna Raie, Rachael Martin Clarke and DaVizion, among others. The live broadcast also will include interviews from community members such as Dorothy Herron, president of the alumni association, Pastor Bill Webster and Martin University President Dr. Sean Huddleston.
"Martin's mission has always been to change lives through education and community service," Huddleston said in a press release. "The Give-A-Thon will help us provide scholarships to change and improve even more lives."
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.
MARTIN UNIVERSITY GIVE-A-THON
To donate, visit its website martin.edu or call in 1-5 p.m. during the give-a-thon, which will be broadcast on WHMB TV-40, The Light AM 1310 and 92.7 FM, WTLC 106.7, Hot 96.3. You can also text-to-give by texting "MARTIN" to 50155.