Ministers Call For Firing Of Public Safety Director

Protesters Line City Hall Budget Meeting

Frustration and anger reached a boiling point Monday night at the City-County Council meeting that was supposed to be highlighted by Mayor Greg Ballard's budget presentation.

A group of protesters, holding large posters, were quiet inside the meeting, but outside they were quite vocal, 6News' Rick Hightower reported.

The protesters from the Baptist Ministers Alliance expressed outrage over a string of recent problems inside the Indianapolis Metro Police Department, including a botched investigation of an officer authorities said was driving drunk when he hit a group of motorcyclists, killing one, and recent allegations of police brutality.

The signs had various statements condemning Ballard and the city's handling of the investigations.

"If anybody needs to be fired or demoted at this point, it looks like a failure of the public safety director, and we're calling on the mayor to fire (Frank) Straub," said the Rev. Stephen Clay, of the Baptist Ministers Alliance.

The group blames Straub for low morale at the department, which the some think has spurred some officers to bad behavior.

"We have not seen the kind of unraveling of ethical behavior on the police department since director Straub has been here," Clay said.

Council members weren't quite as direct in their criticism, but they admitted they are embarrassed by problems inside the police department.

"The mayor asked for this. He wanted to be in control of the police," said Councilor Monroe Gray. "Then, he needs to stand up and take responsibility for this."

"The council votes to put people in their positions. I'm sure we could vote to take them out real quick if it was deemed necessary," said Councilor Ed Coleman.

Councilor Joanne Sanders said she plans to meet with Straub later this week in search of answers.

"It does not bode well, and it certainly has affected people's trust," she said.

Ballard didn't directly address the ministers but made a statement after his presentation.

"There are a lot of people trying to heal some wounds. Some people are trying to put salt in those wounds," Ballard said.

In a response via e-mail Straub simply said, "No," when asked if he had a statement in response to the Baptist Ministers Alliance.