Q&A: Police disciplinary records

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From The Fountain County Neighbor:

Q: We are currently digging into a case with a local law enforcement department. Apparently one of the deputies was caught giving alcohol to a minor. This came to light after the same deputy gave a severe beating to a prisoner in handcuffs before he was transported to the county jail. Here is my question: If the town council held an executive session to discuss the issue of the contributing to a minor would members have to state the punishment they decided on in an open session? The deputy wasn’t fired.

A: The town council can hold an executive session to discuss the deputy’s status as an employee and receive information about his alleged misconduct. See IC 5-14-1.5-6.1(b)(6). But a final action (vote on his punishment, for example) by the town council must be done in a public meeting.

Since he wasn’t fired, I’d make an Access to Public Records Act request for records concerning disciplinary actions taken against the deputy under IC 5-14-3-4(b)(8)(C). The town would have to turn over records that set out the factual basis for the disciplinary action if the deputy was fire, demoted or suspended.

If they didn’t do any of those things you have a story about whether the level of punishment was sufficient. If they don’t have any records from the disciplinary action you may have a story as to the professionalism of the investigation.