Report on Gary Police Department details many problems
POST-TRIBUNE STAFF REPORT October 5, 2013 10:36PM
The report praised the "many good officers and employees" of the Gary Police Department but said they are stifled by an environment of apathy, political favoritism, low pay and poor community relations. | Post-Tribune File Photo
Updated: November 7, 2013 6:28AM
The introduction to the 13-page report prepared by the Gary Police Department Technical Assessment Team organized by Indiana State Police praises police officers and civilian interviewed during the process.
It states: “There are many very good officers and employees with the police department who do, and want to continue to do, good work. However, the majority of these people feel they are getting swallowed up in an environment of apathy; political favoritism; low pay and benefits; poor relations with the community, with their own command, and even their fellow officers; and in some cases, the criminal actions of some employees.”
And the report concludes: “Over the course of this assessment many dedicated officers were interviewed, all of which desire improvement of the police department. Empowerment of these officers, while implementing the points outlined in this assessment, is the key to building a successful department that will provide service and value to the citizens of Gary.”
In between, however, the team complains about problems obtaining basic information and the unavailability of records that other police departments maintain. “Technology-based training files and certified training instructor lists are non-existent . . . GPD and the city were asked for training files on five officers; it took over three hours to comply . . . there was no consistent style of documentation to verify the officers had successfully completed their required in-service training hours.”
Staffing levels in patrol are too low. To bring the street level assignments in line with national average recommendations of 60 percent of the force, the report suggests using reserve officers or private security to replace the four officers assigned to the mayor and City Hall, remove all three officers from the airport, use civilian staff to work in the motor pool, and consolidate the various units within investigations and move some detectives to patrol. Move two of the three officers assigned to training and use civilian staff instead. The department could only tell the assessment team that it has “between eight and 18” field training officers. The report suggests 30, with expanded training and better documentation.
The overall haphazard supervision of the police department is reflected in officers’ uniforms. “There is a lack of standards in grooming and uniform appearance throughout the department . . . in spite of each officer receiving a clothing allowance. According to the administrative staff, there is a substantial range in the amount officers are paid for clothing allowance, varying from $200 to $2,500.”
The team noted that six sworn officers are limited to clerical duties because they are prohibited from testifying in court proceedings. These officers have been identified by federal or state prosecutors because of criminal activity.
Gary is losing officers to other departments and the private sector because of low pay. There will be no raises for them again in 2014.
Less than one-third of cars assigned to the police department are marked patrol units. Most are models from 2010 or earlier. The team suggests increasing the number of marked cars to increase visibility. Only half of patrol officers have mobile computers for their cars.