City-county commission under tight deadline to add more IMPD police officers

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 6, 2014) — The city of Indianapolis is on a tight deadline to put more Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers on the streets.

The IMPD Staffing Study Commission held a public hearing to weigh in on the issue. About a dozen residents attended the meeting at the Library Services Center Thursday night.

“The events in the last 24, 48 hours make it even more relevant,” said John Barth, City-County Council vice president. “The issue of violent crime is so important we decided to fast-track this commission.”

As it stands, IMPD is bringing in 80 new recruits this year.  However, the Fraternal Order of Police estimates the department loses roughly 50 officers each year to attrition, leaving this year’s net gain at 30.

Since the 2007 police department merger, IMPD staffing has dropped from 1740 officers to 1500.

“I think there’s a communication gap between our community and the important on these issues,” said Audwynn Newman, an Indianapolis resident and community nonprofit founder. “Having more police officers is important, but hopefully we can eliminate some of the events that forces us to need those police officers.”

The commission said it’s time to look for long-term sustainable funding options — including increasing taxes, eliminating a local homestead tax credit, or charging public safety services at major events like the Indy 500 and Mini Marathon.

“Each year, we’re losing well over $1 million and we’re also taking officers off the street,” said Christine Scales, R-City-County Council member. “They’re being drawn from the township areas and areas where they’re needed.”

City leaders said it’s not just about punching numbers, but better community-based policing.

“Do we need more police officers? I think the answer is yes,” said Barth. “However, it’s not only that. When you have more police officers, what can you do differently?”

The IMPD staffing study commission has until the end of the month to draft a proposal. It will then be presented to the full city county council.