The bad news for IMPD and Indianapolis government just keeps coming.
News broke Wednesday that Lincoln Plowman, a former City-County Councilman and police major, has been indicted by a federal grand jury for felony counts of extortion and bribery — adding to a growing list of scandals surrounding city law-enforcement and public office in the city.
We've seen some rather egregious stuff around this city lately. But it doesn't get much sleazier than this. Plowman solicited bribes from an undercover FBI agent posing as a developer who wanted to build an exclusive strip club downtown. If convicted, Plowman could face up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Though unique in some ways, the story is becoming awfully familiar in others. According to an article in today's Indianapolis Star, at least 14 IMPD officers have been arrested since April 2008. At least five others are currently under investigation. Others have been demoted, reassigned and otherwise disciplined, most notably in connection with the David Bisard case, in which Bisard allegedly plowed a police cruiser into three motorcyclists while intoxicated, killing one.
This is to say nothing of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi, who under dubious circumstances dismissed crucial evidence in the Bisard case, and around whose office the stench of scandal has persistently hovered for the past year.
Goes without saying at this point, perhaps... but Mayor Greg Ballard doesn't need any more scandals like this going down on his watch. The reforms the mayor announced a few weeks ago following the Bisard case were encouraging. But they aren't enough. Truly, as time wears on, a picture of deep-seeded corruption at the IMPD is emerging.
In a statement, Ballard emphasized IMPD's concerns about Plowman's activities in the months preceding his resignation last March:
"Earlier this year, IMPD’s Professional Standards Division investigated former Officer Lincoln Plowman on concerns of wrongdoing," he said. "Shortly before the conclusion of that investigation, Mr. Plowman resigned from IMPD and retired from the City-County Council. Though Mr. Plowman is due his day in court, today's announcement by the U.S. Attorney’s Office supports IMPD's concerns."
What's curious is that it took a federal investigation to really bring the house down. One wonders what IMPD knew at the time of Plowman's resignation, and what Plowman knew they knew from his position on the inside when he resigned.
City-County Councilors are scrambling to distance themselves as well. In the Star article, council leaders made strides to emphasize that this was an isolated case. One can be forgiven for ingesting yet another "bad apple" theory from Indy's public officials with an enormous grain of salt.
It's clear we need a thorough housecleaning. Unfortunately this November's election will have a limited impact on city government. But with offices like the prosecutor's up for grabs, it's a good place to start.