Thursday, March 29, 2012

Frank Straub - The Timex Public Safety Director

I admit I only saw part of last night's marathon Public Safety committee grilling of Director Frank Straub live last night and viewed about an hour of the public comments this morning.  Today's IndyStar piece by Jon Murray focuses less on the meeting than a new direction for policing in Indianapolis (see "Straub plan concentrates IMPD patrols in Indy's most troubled areas").

I continue to believe that Indy needs new direction for its police department, but I am outside of my knowledge base to fully understand if Straub is the right man for the job or not.  I suspect most citizens are in the same boat as I.  I also hear more backlash because Straub is an outsider than any other point of critique.  I continue to support an outsider to lead our public safety.

I remember every few months before Straub was appointed, some police officer or a couple, were arrested for corruption or accused of brutality.  That parade should have given pause to all of us who want their protection, not their abuse of power.  I suspect nearly every other city would have had an investigation to see just how extensive that corruption was.  We did not.  So, I was content with bringing in an 'outsider' who would not be involved in the cliques that always operate in any human endeavor.

The arrest of officers and misconduct of officers has slowed considerably.  The best practices from other parts of the US are being brought here to help make IMPD more effective.  And, isn't that what we want?

Straub has some demerits on furnishing his office when the money could be better spent, and most recently claiming a budget deficit so enormous that stations would have to go dark - a matter that now is said to be under control, instead - and he is involved in poor relationships with key community leaders both inside policing and outside. 

With all of this, isn't it curious that IFD, which has not been a focus for reform, has also avoided the friction that centers around Straub when IMPD is mentioned?

I know most public commentary will be against Straub.  But, I am going to go against the grain here and stick with him.  Not because Straub is perfect, but because he has brought about some changes in IMPD that we have needed. 


Anonymous said...

Good blog,but its obvious that you have not spoken with any IMPD officers about this situation. Your tone would be 180 form where it is at today

Paul K. Ogden said...

Few people are against bringing in an "outsider" or bringing "best practices" to the Department. The problem is the outsider Ballard chose to lead this effort. Straub is a disaster, someone who has demoralized the office, put public safety in a huge financial hole, and has a huge ego that prevents him from doing what is best for the Department.

Anonymous said...

High ranking, well respected IMPD officers have moved in and out of the DPS office. Why? Disgust at the less than moral and ethical tasks they were assigned to do by Straub.
Strong leaders don't resort to intimidation tactics, calling officers M.F'ers, and throwing things in meetings when angry.
Real men who are trained in public safety measures as supposedly is Straub, don't need bodyguards(oops sorry, drivers who are IMPD officers). Those officers could be more effectively used to patrol crime areas where little old ladies are afraid to sit on their porches for fear of becoming victims of crime.
Boots on the ground firefighters don't care for Straub-only the union heads and dept. chiefs who are counting on promotions for playing along with him show him the love.
This is Straub's M.O-cozy up to fire mgmt. and give them the attention and money they feel has been reserved for police officers and they will show their appreciation. Then count on people such as yourself who ask, why do they love Straub, but the police officers don't?
Do the fire stations run out of toilet paper and ask the employees to supply their own?

Indy Student said...

While Straub has a few defenders in the department, such as Spencer Moore, they're few and far between.

Tensions between IMPD and the Mayor are nothing new. Remember back in the (70s, I think) when IPD parked their cars around the CCB, locked the doors, and collectively threw their keys into a bucket on the CCB's steps?

I don't think the problme is Straub being an "outsider". Newman and other predecessors weren't exactly IPD/IMPD insiders either (though they typically did have some working relationship in public safety somewhere within Indiana).

But what has happened, and this is specifically over the past few years since Newman left and Straub came in, is that DPS as a department has drastically expanded.

Historically, DPS has two purposes: To ensure that the several departments under their umbrella are communicating and cordinating well and, when necessary, sharing information. And to participate in the budget process and essentially act as an advocate for DPS' departments to the council and the 25th floor. Because, while the respective department heads of IMPD, IFD, AC&C, etc... should be involved in the process, they should primarily be running their organizations, and not getting caught up in technocratic stuff.

But the way Straub has run DCP is different than Scott Newman did, in a much more hands-on approach. Crafting policy, being deeply involved in ongoing criminal investigations, giving lectures to IMPD. This is brand new and uncharted territory. And I'd argue that the other orgs under DPS, particularly Animal Care, have suffered due to Straub's focus on IMPD

IMPD needs reforms, no one debates that. But to reform, you need to be able to have a working relationship with that organization. Straub has failed in that rgard/ said...

Hmm really nice article. I didn't know about it.