Sec. 4. (a) This section also applies to all towns and townships that have full-time, paid police or fire departments. For purposes of this section, the appropriate appointing authority of a town or township is considered the safety board of a town or township. In a town with a board of metropolitan police commissioners, that board is considered the safety board of the town for police department purposes.

     (b) Except as provided in subsection (m), a member of the police or fire department holds office or grade until the member is dismissed or demoted by the safety board. Except as provided in subsection (n), a member may be disciplined by demotion, dismissal, reprimand, forfeiture, or suspension upon either:

Terms Used In Indiana Code 36-8-3-4

  • Affirmed: In the practice of the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court.
  • Appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.
  • Attachment: A procedure by which a person's property is seized to pay judgments levied by the court.
  • Attorney: includes a counselor or other person authorized to appear and represent a party in an action or special proceeding. See Indiana Code 1-1-4-5
  • Clerk: means the clerk of the court or a person authorized to perform the clerk's duties. See Indiana Code 1-1-4-5
  • Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.
  • Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.
  • Corporation: A legal entity owned by the holders of shares of stock that have been issued, and that can own, receive, and transfer property, and carry on business in its own name.
  • Defendant: In a civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
  • Dismissal: The dropping of a case by the judge without further consideration or hearing. Source:
  • Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
  • Judgment: means all final orders, decrees, and determinations in an action and all orders upon which executions may issue. See Indiana Code 1-1-4-5
  • Litigation: A case, controversy, or lawsuit. Participants (plaintiffs and defendants) in lawsuits are called litigants.
  • Oath: includes "affirmation" and "to swear" includes to "affirm". See Indiana Code 1-1-4-5
  • Plaintiff: The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
  • Summons: Another word for subpoena used by the criminal justice system.
  • Testify: Answer questions in court.
  • Transcript: A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a proceeding such as a trial or during some other conversation, as in a transcript of a hearing or oral deposition.
  • Trial: A hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to give evidence.
  • Venue: The geographical location in which a case is tried.
  • Verified: when applied to pleadings, means supported by oath or affirmation in writing. See Indiana Code 1-1-4-5
(1) conviction in any court of any crime; or

(2) a finding and decision of the safety board that the member has been or is guilty of any one (1) or more of the following:

(A) Neglect of duty.

(B) A violation of rules.

(C) Neglect or disobedience of orders.

(D) Incapacity.

(E) Absence without leave.

(F) Immoral conduct.

(G) Conduct injurious to the public peace or welfare.

(H) Conduct unbecoming an officer.

(I) Another breach of discipline.

The safety board may not consider the political affiliation of the member in making a decision under this section. If a member is suspended or placed on administrative leave under this subsection, the member is entitled to the member’s allowances for insurance benefits to which the member was entitled before being suspended or placed on administrative leave. In addition, the local unit may provide the member’s allowances for any other fringe benefits to which the member was entitled before being suspended or placed on administrative leave.

     (c) Before a member of a police or fire department may be suspended in excess of five (5) days without pay, demoted, or dismissed, the safety board shall offer the member an opportunity for a hearing. If a member desires a hearing, the member must request the hearing not more than five (5) days after the notice of the suspension, demotion, or dismissal. Written notice shall be given either by service upon the member in person or by a copy left at the member’s last and usual place of residence at least fourteen (14) days before the date set for the hearing. The hearing conducted under this subsection shall be held not more than thirty (30) days after the hearing is requested by the member, unless a later date is mutually agreed upon by the parties. The notice must state:

(1) the time and place of the hearing;

(2) the charges against the member;

(3) the specific conduct that comprises the charges;

(4) that the member is entitled to be represented by counsel;

(5) that the member is entitled to call and cross-examine witnesses;

(6) that the member is entitled to require the production of evidence; and

(7) that the member is entitled to have subpoenas issued, served, and executed in the county where the unit is located.

If the corporation counsel or city attorney is a member of the safety board of a city, the counsel or attorney may not participate as a safety board member in a disciplinary hearing concerning a member of either department. The safety board shall determine if a member of the police or fire department who is suspended in excess of five (5) days shall continue to receive the member’s salary during the suspension.

     (d) Upon an investigation into the conduct of a member of the police or fire department, or upon the trial of a charge preferred against a member of either department, the safety board may compel the attendance of witnesses, examine them under oath, and require the production of books, papers, and other evidence at a meeting of the board. For this purpose, the board may issue subpoenas and have them served and executed in any part of the county where the unit is located. If a witness refuses to testify or to produce books or papers in the witness’s possession or under the witness’s control, IC 36-4-6-21 controls to the extent applicable. The proper court may compel compliance with the order by attachment, commitment, or other punishment.

     (e) The reasons for the suspension, demotion, or dismissal of a member of the police or fire department shall be entered as specific findings of fact upon the records of the safety board. A member who is suspended for a period exceeding five (5) days, demoted, or dismissed may appeal the decision to the circuit or superior court of the county in which the unit is located. However, a member may not appeal any other decision.

     (f) An appeal under subsection (e) must be taken by filing in court, within thirty (30) days after the date the decision is rendered, a verified complaint stating in concise manner the general nature of the charges against the member, the decision of the safety board, and a demand for the relief asserted by the member. A bond must also be filed that guarantees the appeal will be prosecuted to a final determination and that the plaintiff will pay all costs adjudged against the plaintiff. The bond must be approved as bonds for costs are approved in other cases. The unit must be named as the sole defendant, and the plaintiff shall have a summons issued as in other cases against the unit. Neither the safety board nor the members of it may be made parties defendant to the complaint, but all are bound by service upon the unit and the judgment rendered by the court.

     (g) In an appeal under subsection (e), no pleading is required by the unit to the complaint, but the allegations are considered denied. The unit may file a motion to dismiss the appeal for failure to perfect it within the time and in the manner required by this section. If more than one (1) person was included in the same charges and in the same decision of dismissal by the safety board, then one (1) or more of the persons may join as plaintiffs in the same complaint, but only the persons that appeal from the decision are affected by it. The decision of the safety board is final and conclusive upon all persons not appealing. The decision appealed from is not stayed or affected pending the final determination of the appeal, but remains in effect unless modified or reversed by the final judgment of the court.

     (h) A decision of the safety board is considered prima facie correct, and the burden of proof is on the party appealing. All appeals shall be tried by the court. The appeal shall be heard de novo only upon any new issues related to the charges upon which the decision of the safety board was made. The charges are considered to be denied by the accused person. Within ten (10) days after the service of summons the safety board shall file in court a complete transcript of all papers, entries, and other parts of the record relating to the particular case. Inspection of these documents by the person affected, or by the person’s agent, must be permitted by the safety board before the appeal is filed, if requested. Each party may produce evidence relevant to the issues that it desires, and the court shall review the record and decision of the safety board upon appeal.

     (i) The court shall make specific findings and state the conclusions of law upon which its decision is made. If the court finds that the decision of the safety board appealed from should in all things be affirmed, its judgment should state that, and judgment for costs shall be rendered against the party appealing. If the court finds that the decision of the safety board appealed from should not be affirmed in all things, then the court shall make a general finding, setting out sufficient facts to show the nature of the proceeding and the court’s decision on it. The court shall either:

(1) reverse the decision of the safety board; or

(2) order the decision of the safety board to be modified.

     (j) The final judgment of the court may be appealed by either party. Upon the final disposition of the appeal by the courts, the clerk shall certify and file a copy of the final judgment of the court to the safety board, which shall conform its decisions and records to the order and judgment of the court. If the decision is reversed or modified, then the safety board shall pay to the party entitled to it any salary or wages withheld from the party pending the appeal and to which the party is entitled under the judgment of the court.

     (k) Either party shall be allowed a change of venue from the court or a change of judge in the same manner as such changes are allowed in civil cases. The Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure govern in all matters of procedure upon the appeal that are not otherwise provided for by this section.

     (l) An appeal takes precedence over other pending litigation and shall be tried and determined by the court as soon as practical.

     (m) Except as provided in IC 36-5-2-13, the executive may reduce in grade any member of the police or fire department who holds an upper level policy making position. The reduction in grade may be made without adhering to the requirements of subsections (b) through (l). However, a member may not be reduced in grade to a rank below that which the member held before the member’s appointment to the upper level policy making position.

     (n) If the member is subject to criminal charges, the board may place the member on administrative leave until the disposition of the criminal charges in the trial court. Any other action by the board is stayed until the disposition of the criminal charges in the trial court. An administrative leave under this subsection may be with or without pay, as determined by the board. If the member is placed on leave without pay, the board, in its discretion, may award back pay if the member is exonerated in the criminal matter.

[Pre-Local Government Recodification Citations: subsection (a) formerly 19-1-3.5-1; subsection (b) formerly 18-1-11-3 part; 19-1-28-1 part; subsection (c) formerly 18-1-11-3 part; 19-1-3-2; subsections (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (k), (l), (m) formerly 18-1-11-3 part.]

As added by Acts 1981, P.L.309, SEC.52. Amended by Acts 1981, P.L.315, SEC.2; P.L.104-1983, SEC.5; P.L.58-1989, SEC.3; P.L.265-1993, SEC.1; P.L.234-1996, SEC.1; P.L.34-1999, SEC.5.