Councillors launch questions at IMPD over $250M budget

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Sept. 16, 2015) - A debate over hiring new officers and purchasing police body cameras is expected to play out over the next couple of weeks. Council members got their first look at the IMPD budget Wednesday night. Next year's budget for the department is worth $257.6 million.

"The stated purpose that all of us had was to put more officers on the street and we need to do that," Councillor Aaron Freeman (R) said.

From more officers on the street to equipping those officers with body cameras, the money the city will give IMPD in 2016 hits on some very hot button issues.

"We’re being challenged in our credibility and our integrity," IMPD Chief Rick Hite said.

Hite presented the budget to the Public Safety committee, highlighting the 70 news officers to be hired next year and the department's recruiting efforts, as well as the plan to implement body cameras.

155 new police recruits will also be hired by the end of this year.

Fraternal Order of Police President, Rick Snyder, is encouraged to see the hiring but believes next year's budget doesn't do enough to keep up with attrition. He says 49 police officers have left the department or retired so far this year.

"We firmly believe in a course of hiring 100 officers next year needs to be maintained versus the 70 officers within the administration's proposed budget," said Snyder.

In addition to hiring officers, councillors and the FOP have called for funding to make sure police have the proper resources. A council proposal would allocate $4.7 million to purchase pursuit vehicles and upgrade training facilities. Mayor Ballard vetoed the measure but the council overrode his veto.

As for body cameras, the city has identified $250,000 for the cameras but it is heavily relying on federal grants.

Councillors expressed concern that grants would only provide one-time funding and the city could be left on the hook for millions of dollars to maintain the cameras. Overall, they seemed to doubt that this year's budget will be able to get body cameras on every officer.

"Logistically, I think it’s going to be really tough to do. I'm just curious more than anything, where’s the money coming from?" Councillor Frank Mascari (D) said.

"To say we’re going to put them on every officer this year, that’s impossible. You just can’t," Freeman said.

The council is expected to finalize the budget in mid-October.