INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb announced steps Tuesday toward tackling racial
injustice concerns that include equipping state police troopers with body
cameras and hiring a state government equity officer who’ll report directly
governor discussed his plans in an online speech after the Indiana Black
Legislative Caucus called last week for increased accountability for the
state’s police officers - and 11 weeks after protests over the death of
George Floyd in Minnesota turned violent in Indianapolis and left behind
widespread damage to downtown businesses.
racism as a “virus that’s equally voracious” as the coronavirus outbreak for
the state and nation.
“It’s in turn
forcing us to a reckoning as a state and nation - one that’s built on
‘equality for all,’” he said.
candidate Woody Myers, an African American who is challenging Holcomb in the
November election, disparaged Holcomb’s proposals as disingenuous for coming
after nearly 16 years of Republican control of the governor’s office.
“This is an effort
to make people feel good about his willingness to address a set of issues
that up until now he’s not been willing to address,” Myers said in an
Holcomb said he
would have every “front-line state trooper” wearing a body camera by spring
of 2021. The Black Legislative Caucus, made up of 13 Black Democratic
lawmakers, called last week for body and dashboard cameras for police
State police will
need to spend about $5 million to purchase body cameras for some 700
troopers, with it then costing about $1.5 million a year to manage the video
data, state police Superintendent Doug Carter said.
Holcomb also said
an outside review would be conducted of the training practices and
curriculum at the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy, which is operated by the
state police and provides the basic training of new officers for most police
agencies across the state.
The new chief
equity, inclusion and opportunity officer position announced by Holcomb will
be a cabinet-level position dedicated to working with state agencies to
identify and make changes to improve equality in the workplace and with
“For my part, I
commit to you that I will work to be a barrier buster and to bring greater
equity and opportunity within your state government and the services you
entrust us to provide so that every Hoosier can take full advantage of their
gifts and of their potential,” Holcomb said.
Myers, who is the
first Black major party nominee for Indiana governor, said steps such as
requiring police body cameras should have been taken years ago, while he
questioned the equity officer would have the authority to make significant
Myers also faulted
Holcomb and Republicans who dominate the Legislature for not earlier
tackling problems such as low teacher pay and a lack of public health
funding that have disproportionately hurt minority communities.
“I just think it is
disingenuous to make us think now that there is a genuine concern when there
hasn’t been for such a long, long time,” Myers said.
spoke about the protests in late May and early June that drew out thousands
of people in Indianapolis and other cities around the state after the
killing of Floyd, the Black man whose death at the hands of a white
Minneapolis police officer sparked worldwide demonstrations for police
He praised police
officers killed in the line of duty while admonishing those who turned to
violence during the protests.
“I say, if you want
change, don’t throw that brick. Use it to build a foundation for something
better,” Holcomb said. “I feel for the shop owners - many of them people of
color - whose stores were damaged by looters.”
The governor didn’t
mention the alleged assault on a Black man who says he was attacked at
southern Indiana Lake Monroe and that someone threatened to “get a noose.”
Two white face criminal charges in the July Fourth weekend confrontation
that gained attention across the country.
Legislative Caucus said Holcomb was “taking steps in the right direction.”
words must be followed by swift action and a good start would be to
facilitate much needed support from Republicans in the General Assembly,”
the group said in a statement. “While a review of our law enforcement
academy and curriculum is needed, the governor must put concrete plans in
place now to protect our Black Hoosier community. Banning the use of
no-knock warrants, racial profiling and chokeholds from our law enforcement
would further demonstrate the governor’s solidarity with Black and brown