Monday, June 13, 2011

Indianapolis Needs a Parade Policy for Public Safety Officers; Officers Participating in Community Events Should Do So On Their Own Time

Mr. Frank Straub,
Public Safety Director
Behind the scenes there was apparently a lot of unhappiness with the decision to allow officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Indianapolis Fire Department to participate in the Gay Pride Parade while in uniform, using public safety vehicles and most importantly while on the clock, getting paid by taxpayers.  My hunch is that Public Safety Director Frank Straub made the decision and, given the outcry within the Republican Party, Mayor Ballard tried to alter it at the last minute.  From reading the blogs, it doesn't appear real clear what the final decision actually was.  Certainly uniformed IMPD and IFD officers did participate and public safety vehicles were used.  No word on whether those officers were being paid by taxpayers.

Those who support IMPD and IFD participation in this event point to the event as being just "cultural" and that we allow public safety officers to participate in such things as the St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving Day parade as well as other community events.  I have to admit, while I'm not surprised uniformed public safety officers participate in such events (I generally don't watch parades), I had no idea they were doing so while on the clock.  While I don't think the Gay Pride Parade, at this point in history, is 100% cultural and not the slightest bit political, I frankly don't want public safety officers getting paid to participate in cultural events either.  While I think it's important we recognize them and give thanks publicly, I don't think the should be on the clock while

Here is the rough outline of a policy:

Cultural Events; Holiday Celebrations:  Officers may wear uniforms to participate in event.  A limited number of public safety vehicles can participate in parades.  However, no officers participating in event shall be paid.

Political Events (this shall include events that are at least partially political):  Officers are free to participate.  Due, however, to the importance of public safety officers staying out of politics, they are not to wear uniforms or use public safety vehicles.  No officer shall participate in these political events while on the clock.  (This actually is already the current ethics policy.)

These restrictions shall not apply to those who are working the event in the capacity of their regular job. For example, a police officer working security at a political event can be wearing a uniform, using a public safety vehicle, and receiving their regular pay.

After finding out that it was the policy to pay public safety officers to participate in cultural events, I have to wonder if they're also paid for such things as attending funerals?

One thing that was not raised, but should be, is whether Indianapolis public safety officers being paid to participate in such events are committing ghost employment.  It seems to run dangerously close to the line.

Nonetheless, a clearly written, understandable policy would have alleviated much of the confusion that happened this weekend.

1 comment: said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that participants in the St. Patrick's Day and Thanksgiving Day parade wear pants.