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I will freely admit at the start of this column that the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police and I have been at odds with each other for the past few years regarding the David Bisard case.
The FOP last week voted to rescind its representation of David Bisard, who, while on duty as an Indianapolis police officer in 2010, was involved in an auto crash which killed one motorcyclist and seriously injured two others. Bisard was accused of driving under the influence but due either to incompetence or conspiracy he was not taken to the proper facility for the blood draw. Former Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi decided to drop the drunk driving charges, but they were re-filed by current Prosecutor Terry Curry and the matter is making its way through the legal system. Bisard was arrested again last week on drunk driving charges stemming from an incident in Lawrence.
Back in December 2010, the FOP voted to pay for Bisard's legal defense since he was on the clock when the crash occurred. There was some question back then as to whether the vote was truly reflective of the will of the FOP. I wrote on my blog Indiana Barrister
at the time that Bisard's supporters may have stacked the deck since only 100 members of the 1,700 voting member organization showed up to vote. President Bill Owensby took issue with that accusation and told me that Bisard was entitled to due process. At the time I told Owensby that while Bisard was entitled to due process, I did not think he was entitled to an FOP-paid defense - and that they were making a big mistake in providing it.
It would have been one thing if the FOP had a policy of defending every officer who is accused of wrongdoing if the alleged activity occurs while they on the clock, but that is not the policy. For example, back in 2009, Officer Candi Perry was charged with official misconduct and false reporting for allegedly keeping information from detectives in a homicide investigation. Perry maintained her innocence and told my colleagues at RTV 6 that she turned over all pertinent information over to detectives but she would not give up the name of her witness because the witness did not trust police. The FOP did not defend Perry in her trial, even though she was found not guilty of any wrongdoing.
Some have said that the FOP did not come to Perry's defense because she was black and female and not part of the "good old boy network." I have never been willing to go down that road, but it does reveal an inconsistency in the FOP's decision-making process when it comes to defending its members. How else do you explain a decision to defend someone accused of driving drunk and killing someone versus not defending someone accused of not giving detectives every detail regarding a murder investigation where the original information provided led to the arrest of the suspect?
Luckily, the FOP, or at least the members that decided to show up to vote, made the right call this time. They voted 77-18 to rescind his legal representation. Unfortunately the decision only comes after hundreds of thousands of dollars in members' dues have been spent defending this individual who, while entitled to due process, should have never been entitled to access the resources of the men and women of law enforcement who know how to obey the law.