Sen. Tomes has introduced SB 34 which seems mostly to be a way for him to express his unhappiness with the Black Lives Matter protests this summer. It provides that the State and local unites of government may not hire and must fire someone convicted of rioting. “Rioting” is already on the books and is defined as, “A person who, being a member of an unlawful assembly, recklessly, knowingly, or intentionally engages in tumultuous conduct.” “Unlawful assembly” is currently defined as, “an assembly of five (5) or more persons whose common object is to commit an unlawful act, or a lawful act by unlawful means.” And, “tumultuous conduct” is defined as “conduct that results in, or is likely to result in, serious bodily injury to a person or substantial damage to property.”
SB 34 also provides that state and local government can’t provide a “state or local benefit” to someone who has been convicted of rioting. Such benefits are defined pretty broadly to include most public spending directed to an individual. However, the prohibition does not extend to, among other things, emergency medical treatment, assistance with vaccine, and short-term noncash emergency relief.
The normal protection given to law enforcement against civil liability for enforcing or failing to enforce a law would not extend to “failure to enforce a law in connection with an unlawful assembly” if such failure rose to the level of gross negligence. So, that would give law enforcement incentive to prioritize breaking up assemblies “of five or more people whose common object is to commit an unlawful act” since people who were harmed or had property damaged as a result of the assembly could look to local government to compensate them for the damage caused by the people assembling. Property used by a person to finance or facilitate a crime committed while the person was part of an unlawful assembly could be seized under the civil forfeiture statute. Someone charged with unlawful assembly could not be released on bail by the Sheriff according to a bail schedule. Rather, the statute would require a bail determination in court for such charges.
Finally, it prohibits a unit of local government from “defunding law enforcement” unless the reduction in funds can be shown to be a function of a decline in revenue for the unit, a decline in the crime rate, or the availability of other sources of funding. There’s a rebuttable presumption that defunding has happened if the funding available to the law enforcement agency has declined by 5%. If a court determines that defunding has happened, it is to order that funding be restored in the amount provided in the last fiscal year plus an additional amount to cover inflation.
The legislation would enhance penalties for the crimes of criminal mischief, obstruction of traffic, rioting, and/or disorderly conduct if committed in connection with unlawful assembly.
Ben Cotton says
Is “crime rate” defined in the Indiana Code? e.g. is it based on reports, arrests, convictions, something else? This should come as no surprise, but it sounds like this bill would provide an incentive for departments to make questionable arrests in order to keep their “crime rate” up. You get what you measure.
Relatedly, I wonder if Senator Tomes would also support removing a member of the General Assembly who participated in the insurrection at the Capitol last week (assuming any did).
Doug Masson says
Well, for whatever it’s worth, the fiscal note was prepared in November. So, he might’ve been working under the assumption that only lefties engaged in riot, unlawful assembly, and whatnot.
I hate bills that are knee jerk reactions to the latest crisis and I am not sure if it would hold up in court. How are the police are going to determine between the peaceful and the over zealous demonstrators and the rioters who are there to take advantage of the situation. You can guarantee that protestors would be arrested that had not committed any crimes except showing up and being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
From my view there are so many problems with this bill. I do hope it never see the light of day.
The defunding of police departments has been way overblown. The city council of Indianapolis passed a new bill in 2020 giving the civilians (one member would be appointed by the mayor, etc) a extra vote over the police department on the oversight board. The board would also have some say over how the department would be run. Right before this vote (which passed) Facebook and Twitter were all ablaze spewing out nonsense of how the police department would be unfunded and officers would be laid off in droves.
I just read the following article – https://www.indystar.com/story/news/local/indianapolis/2021/01/11/indianapolis-police-how-proposed-state-oversight-impd-would-work/6563088002/
A proposal to create a governor-appointed board to oversee the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department filed in the Indiana General Assembly last week. The proposed bill would create a five-member oversight board. The governor would appoint four members and the Indianapolis mayor would serve as the fifth.
I wonder if this bill has more to do with the city of Indianapolis handing over the reins to the citizens that now have one more vote then IPD on the oversite board. They site the BLM riots in the article. Indianapolis wasn’t the only city that had problems and I thoughtthe riots were well contained after the initial outbreaks.
The record high homicide rate is stated in this article as being a reason that the State of Indiana wants to take over IPD. Kansas City MO is referenced in the article as a police department run by the state government of MO.. The homicide rate easily exceeds Indianapolis when you take in the larger population density of Indianapolis. The population of Indianapolis is 876,000 and the population of K.C. MO is 492,000. The homicide rate was 180 in Kansas City and Indianapolis’s homicide rate was 187..
I still think this bill is aimed at the Mayor and Council of Indianapolis for finally giving the citizen government of Indianapolis some say on how IPD operates.
People are going to kill each other no matter how many police you put on the street.. Putting another level of government between the City of Indianapolis and IPD, especially a state government opens up a can of worms. Whenever the state decides that a police department is not being managed right are they going to jump in and take it over. It’s they are going to do that then let all of IPD officers change uniforms and become State Police and pay them accordingly.. I’m all for it I love the State Police hats! Grin