Public safety budget battle looms amidst second officer shooting

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Indianapolis Metropolitan police officer Gregory Stevens became the second IMPD officer shot within the last five days—and city leaders are still far apart on plans to put more officers on the streets.

Mayor Greg Ballard wants to eliminate the Homestead Tax Credit and use $8 million to hire more officers. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs said he could hire 80 police officers next year if Democrats supported the plan. Riggs wants to hire a couple of training classes next year after years of recruiting neglect. There are about 1,540 police officers in IMPD.

That plan meets resistance from Democrats, who say eliminating the tax credit would hurt Marion County schools. They say there are other ways to pay for a new class of IMPD recruits, and believe they can find the money through parking fees and other areas of the budget.

Ballard said he hasn’t played politics with public safety spending, and admits the last few days have weighed on the city and the department.

“A lot of officers in there right now, it’s been a tough week already. As we know, the police force will remain strong and together,” Ballard said.

Ultimately, Ballard believes the city will figure it out.

“The good guys are going to win this one and it’s a constant battle,” he said. “It’s not unknown in cities across the country. Here we’re doing better than most, but quite a few cities are going through this. Our police have really adjusted to what’s going on, but to have incidents almost back to back is a little heartbreaking, to be honest with you.”

The city has until Oct. 14 to adopt a public safety budget.