Indiana governor orders equity officer, cameras for troopers

Governor Eric Holcomb

INDIANAPOLIS (Network Indiana) – State Police will begin wearing body cameras as part of a package of state initiatives focused on racial equity.

In a rare statewide address, Holcomb announced troopers will be equipped with cameras by next spring, and an outside review will look at the police training curriculum, including standards for the use of force, implicit bias training, and de-escalation techniques.

Holcomb created an internal task force after the George Floyd protests to examine ways the state could address racial inequities, He says he’s spent time over those two months listening to African-American stakeholders, including business owners, college presidents, and church leaders, on what else needs to change. He says the answer he kept getting was to address not symptoms but root causes.

Holcomb says those root causes have built up over centuries, and predicts the process of uprooting them will be uncomfortable. But he says he’s committed to ensuring all Hoosiers have equal opportunity and access to “our founders’ vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

Holcomb will create a new Cabinet officer in charge of working with state agencies to and identifyknock down barriers. And he’ll create a new Internet portal to chart racial disparities in areas from health indicators to education to Indiana’s prison population.

“We’ll put our cards on the table, face up,” Holcomb says.

Holcomb says he’s asked the Department of Workforce Development and the Commission for Higher Education for specific recommendations on how state job training programs can reach out to minorities. And if he’s reelected in November, he says he’ll instruct the new Secretary of Education to make it a priority to recruit more minority teachers and close racial gaps in graduation and college attendance rates.

State law will eliminate the superintendent of public instruction as an elected office in January, with the new governor appointing an education secretary instead.

Holcomb says he’ll work with the legislature on further proposals to reduce jail overcrowding and reform sentencing.

Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray calls the address a positive step, and says he’s optimistic about finding common ground to make strides against racism in the upcoming session. The 13-member Indiana Black Legislative Caucus also praised Holcomb’s address, noting there’s a lot of overlap with a reform agenda the all-Democratic caucus unveiled last week.

The legislators are urging Holcomb to go beyond a police training review to take concrete reform steps, including bans on no-knock warrants, chokeholds and racial profiling. But the caucus says Holcomb’s right to draw a link between justice reform and economic opportunity, saying true equality will come when those economic and educational opportunities are fair across the board.

Holcomb quoted Martin University president Sean Huddleston in declaring, “Black lives matter — and so do Black livelihoods.”