“New Group Seeks Accountability from Lafayette Police Department”

The Greater Lafayette Committee for Criminal Justice Reform (GLCCJR) is an ad hoc group of people from Tippecanoe County, who came together to respond to an incident in May 2020 in which officers of the Lafayette Police Department unleashed a police canine on Richard Bailey, an unarmed black Lafayette resident who they had pinned to the ground. A special prosecutor, requested by the Tippecanoe County prosecutor failed to bring any charges against the officers involved. The group plans to request that the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice open an investigation of the incident and is joined by six other community groups as well as State representative Chris Campbell in this endeavor.


We believe this action furthers our wider goals, i.e. :


We aim for law enforcement that respects the dignity and civil rights of all individuals, that is not disproportionately applied to people of color or other minorities, that is carried out with maximum transparency with records open to the public, that emphasizes de-escalation whenever possible, and that operates under the principle of “first do no harm” (both to individuals and to the community). We further advocate for an end to mass incarceration, for restorative justice instead of punishment and for the use of health care providers, counselors, and social service workers to address conflict and crisis, instead of, or in collaboration with, law enforcement whenever possible.


We believe that one indication of the need for reform in the Lafayette Police Department is the disparity in the policies of the Lafayette Police Department and the West Lafayette Police Department Specifically:


1. The WLPD policy states that officers who see an unreasonable use and do not intercede are subject to same level of discipline as the officer using unreasonable force. The LPD policy does not state this.


2. The WLPD requires officers (when circumstances permit) to use “non-violent strategies and techniques to decrease the intensity of a situation… [and] reduce the need for force”. The LPD policy contains no similar statement.


3. The WLPD policy requires officers (when reasonable) to make efforts to identify themselves and warn that deadly force may be used, prior to the use of deadly force. There is no similar statement in the LPD Policy.


4. The WLPD policy details restrictions on when officers are permitted to point a firearm at the direction of another person. The LPD policy has no similar statement.


5. The WLPD policy requires the preparation, at least annually, of an “analysis report on the use of force incidents”, to include “identification of trends in the use of force and recommendations on training and equipment”. There is no similar requirement in the LPD policy.


The GLCCJR welcomes input from all members of the Greater Lafayette community. Please contact us at: greaterlafayettejustice@gmail.com.


By Frank and Sheila Rosenthal