BREAKING NEWS Longtime Purdue basketball radio voice Larry Clisby dies at 74 Full Story
SEVERE WX : Flood Warning View Alerts

Lawmakers weigh bills aimed at prosecutors, IMPD control

Lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that would allow Indiana’s attorney general to appoint special prosecutors to take over criminal cases local authorities decide they won’t pursue.

Posted: Feb 17, 2021 9:14 AM

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday that would allow Indiana’s attorney general to appoint special prosecutors to take over criminal cases local authorities decide they won’t pursue.

The endorsed proposal ensures Indiana prosecutors can’t create lists of crimes they won’t prosecute, said bill sponsor Sen. Mike Young. He pointed to such decisions made by prosecutors in Boston, Chicago and St. Louis to stop pressing charges in cases like trespassing, disorderly conduct or prostitution.

“These prosecutors, they’ve got a list of crimes that they will not prosecute,” Young said. “The prosecutors don’t get to make the call on these things. It’s the people — through their elected representatives and senators.”

The Republican state senator introduced a nearly identical bill in the 2020 Legislature after Democratic Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears announced that his office wouldn’t pursue charges against adults for possessing about 1 ounce or less of marijuana.

Young maintained in the Senate corrections committee Tuesday that the bill's latest iteration “has nothing to do with” the Marion County prosecutor, however, and said the legislation is aimed at any prosecutor in the state of Indiana that adopts what he called a “social justice prosecution" policy not to pursue charges for certain crimes.

“The bill is to ensure that if a prosecutor doesn’t do their job, that we have another method to ensure that the laws of the state of Indiana are upheld," Young said.

The Senate corrections committee on Tuesday did not approve a separate measure that would have taken control of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department away from the mayor of Indianapolis and the city-county council and into the hands of a five-member state board of police commissioners.

Republican Sen. Jack Sandlin, who authored the bill, said the new commission would address “trust issues” between the public and police, as well as reduce rates of violent crime which he attributed to “leadership issues” by city officials. Lawmakers instead redirected the issue to a summer study committee.

Another bill voted down by the committee would have additionally stripped power away from citizens’ oversight boards and given Indiana police chiefs “sole authority” over their departments.

Legislators in the full Senate moved two other bills Tuesday that could increase penalties for rioting or blocking traffic and expand immunity for business owners protecting their storefronts.

The proposals, both authored by Young, come in response to May 2020 protests against racial injustice and police brutality spurred by George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. In Indianapolis, it resulted in several nights of sometimes violent protests, as well as clashes between demonstrators and police.

One piece of legislation seeks to allow Indiana’s attorney general to prosecute criminal offenses that occur during an unlawful assembly. Under the measure, rioting would be raised from a Class A misdemeanor to a level six felony if there’s resulting property damage or serious bodily injury.

The felony further increases to a level five if it results in catastrophic injury, death or damage of at least $50,000.

Enabling rioting would additionally become a Class B misdemeanor. The charge applies to anyone present while members of an unlawful assembly are committing a felony, knows that the action is criminal and fails to leave the area or report the act to police. Currently, it carries no penalty.

Blocking traffic during a protest would be made illegal, too, unless authorized by the government entity that has permitted the public protest to take place. Cities or governments would also be permitted to fire employees and take away their pensions if they’re involved in rioting.

A second bill extends immunity to business owners who use firearms to protect their storefronts. By allowing store owners to point loaded or unloaded firearms in acts of self-defense, Young argued there would be less looting and “destruction” caused by rioters.

Both bills are now being taken up by legislators in the House.

The Senate overwhelmingly defeated a different bill a day earlier that sought to prevent municipalities from reducing public safety budgets, unless in response to a revenue shortfall. A reaction to the “defund the police” movement, the measure drew opposition from Republican lawmakers who cited undue restrictions on local governments to manage their budgets.

___

Casey Smith is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues.

Lafayette
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 56°
Kokomo
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 47°
Rensselaer
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 50°
Lafayette
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 56°
Danville
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 54° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 54°
Frankfort
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 50°
Frankfort
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 50°
Monticello
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 49°
Monticello
Clear
49° wxIcon
Hi: 53° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 49°
Logansport
Clear
46° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 46°
Warmest weather since December is ahead with good timing with the weekend rainfall...
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

WLFI is promoting fire safety with FREE smoke detectors

 WLFI and several local fire departments are helping with your fire safety this winter. CLICK HERE. 

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 660071

Reported Deaths: 12531
CountyCasesDeaths
Marion904161633
Lake48298874
Allen35720633
Hamilton31970396
St. Joseph29796510
Elkhart25331412
Vanderburgh21192377
Tippecanoe19927199
Johnson16312356
Porter15917269
Hendricks15785300
Clark11913180
Madison11717315
Vigo11562229
Monroe10300159
Delaware9824179
LaPorte9739196
Howard9038195
Kosciusko8539108
Bartholomew7424147
Hancock7399130
Warrick7399150
Floyd7180167
Wayne6622191
Grant6413157
Boone606888
Morgan6066124
Dubois5890111
Dearborn544466
Cass542899
Marshall5414104
Henry541392
Noble508476
Jackson464165
Shelby459890
Lawrence4174111
Gibson400981
Harrison397863
Clinton394453
Montgomery385083
DeKalb384378
Knox356285
Miami356163
Whitley348435
Huntington341876
Steuben337455
Wabash330576
Putnam328259
Ripley326461
Adams322149
Jasper314843
White297152
Jefferson293773
Daviess285096
Fayette271156
Decatur270188
Greene260780
Posey260431
Wells257174
Scott250050
LaGrange240770
Clay240344
Randolph225376
Spencer216930
Jennings214344
Washington209927
Sullivan202939
Fountain201042
Starke187250
Owen181953
Fulton177937
Jay177528
Carroll176218
Perry173335
Orange170950
Rush164322
Vermillion160141
Franklin159135
Tipton145941
Parke138615
Pike127432
Blackford120527
Pulaski106544
Newton96531
Brown94839
Benton91713
Crawford90313
Martin80114
Warren75312
Switzerland7527
Union66910
Ohio52911
Unassigned0433

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events