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.
“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.