It took Indianapolis three years to fire a police officer for driving while intoxicated, and there are two suspended officers who have been waiting even longer for hearings, says the Indianapolis Star. The reason for the delays is a matter of due process. State law allows municipalities to establish merit systems for their police and fire departments. In Marion County, the Merit Board cannot require a hearing until criminal court proceedings are completed. “If an officer were to testify to us before his criminal trial, he could make statements that would incriminate himself in that trial,” said Michael Morken, president of the Merit Board. “It is to protect their constitutional rights.”
Some of the suspended officers have delayed procedures further by getting arrested again before their first criminal case was adjudicated. Police Chief Rick Hite said the delays are like a frustrating stain the department is anxious to remove. “Some of these cases, it is obvious that these officers are never going to get back on the department because what they did is so egregious,” he said. “It's worth exploring whether we can expedite the dismissals in some cases.” Any officer suspended by the chief at least 10 days is entitled to an appeal before the Merit Board. If criminal charges are not filed, the hearing usually is scheduled within six months.