Indianapolis - Months' worth of arrests by Indianapolis police are in jeopardy. A Marion Superior Court judge has thrown a case out of court because the arresting officer was never sworn in as a member of the new Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department following the January 1st merger.

Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi calls the consequences "serious." He said the ruling jeopardizes everything from routine traffic violations to high-profile murder investigations.

"We file over 45,000 cases a year, so from January through August, that's probably 20,000 cases that could be thrown out over, really, a misreading of the law," Brizzi said.

At issue is whether Indianapolis police officers and Marion County sheriff's deputies had to take an oath of office as part of the merger. The top brass did, but only 100 or so of the rank and file did so.

City Attorney Kobi Wright says it wasn't necessary for all officers to attend the oath ceremony. Even though a police department rule requires officers to be sworn in, Wright said the rule applies only to new recruits, not current officers.

"They get their police powers from state statute and the municipal ordinance that created the new department. It refers specifically to those police powers, so it's a moot issue as to whether you're sworn in," Wright said.

State Attorney General Steve Carter agrees and plans to lead the appeal.

"There is no legal requirement that Indiana police officers take an oath before executing the powers of office," said Carter.

While new recruits will continue to take an oath of office before joining the force, Chief Michael Spears said there are no plans for current officers to go through another swearing in.

"We're not doing anything different in terms of the directions officers are given about their authority and ability to patrol and take law enforcement actions," Spears said. "We believe they had that authority effective at the start of 2007 and they have it today."

Carter said the earliest the appeal could be heard is in three to four months.

Brizzi noted that two judges dismissed similar motions Wednesday, with a third judge doing so recently. Brizzi said he's confident the ruling will be overturned.

credit: wthr - Indianapolis


When i first heard about this i got sick at my stomach.