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ISP superintendent, Gary mayor respond to council president's concerns with proposed police changes

Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter discusses proposed policy changes at the Gary Police Department during a press conference Sept. 12.
screenshot from Re-Imagine Gary Facebook video
Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter discusses proposed policy changes at the Gary Police Department during a press conference Sept. 12.

The debate over how to update the Gary Police Department's procedures continues. Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter, Lake County Prosecutor Bernard Carter and Gary Mayor Jerome Prince took turns firing back against City Council President William Godwin during a press conference Monday. Godwin and other council members have voiced frustration with a group of 17 proposed policy ordinances that came out of a months-long partnership between the city and the State Police.

Superintendent Carter said the policies are designed to bring the Gary Police Department in line with other agencies and to bring transparency to internal investigations. "Councilman Godwin suggested to me that I'm only a visitor here, and that it was offensive that I would come into the city and make recommendations. I know what he meant. I'm not going anywhere," Carter said Monday.

Superintendent Carter said he's open to council members' input on the proposed policies, but he disagreed with Godwin's opinion that council members should have helped write them.

Mayor Jerome Prince called Godwin's remarks during last week's Public Safety Committee meeting "contemptuous towards law enforcement" and the Lake County Prosecutor's Office. "I believe they were unprofessional. I believe they were derisive and certainly disrespectful," Prince said.

One of the council's big concerns was that the ordinances would shift much of the power from the politically-balanced Police Civil Service Commission to the police chief to be appointed by the mayor. But Prosecutor Bernard Carter said they would simply give the chief and commanders the authority they need for an organized department. Carter said he has the right to offer input as the county's chief law enforcement officer.

"For someone to even infer that I'm meddling is absolutely asinine — absolutely asinine. My purpose is to assist in any capacity we can," the prosecutor said.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Carter says the Gary Police Department was built on solid principles, but he wants to help it — and the city — do better. "I want you to have hope for your future, for your kids. I want the schools to reopen and become vibrant. I want economic development to begin, for violence to go down, for young Black men to quit being murdered. I know I don't look like that, but it doesn't mean I don't care about you," Carter said.

The Public Safety Committee plans to continue discussing the proposed ordinances this Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Michael Gallenberger is a news reporter and producer that hosts All Things Considered on 89.1 FM | Lakeshore Public Media.