INDIANAPOLIS – The last time IMPD hired any new officers was in 2011.
The Department of Public Safety was having a hard time paying its bills, there was no money for toilet paper or patrol cars and there was a day in the summer when technicians were ready to literally turn out the lights at the department’s East District headquarters for overdue payments. Public Safety Director Troy Riggs found the money in the current budget to hire and equip the next generation of the city’s protectors and they were sworn in today.
“I’ve always wanted to be a cop since I was a little girl,” said Recruit Alisha Bernhardt who was preparing to enter her third academy after spending seven years as an IPS officer. “There has to be people out there on the street putting their lives on the line everyday and I feel like…why not me?”
Bernhardt and 59 recruits raised their right hands and took the oath to serve and protect.
“You took the oath, but the oath has to take you,” Chief Rick Hite told the 9th Academy class. “Its your turn. Your legacy starts today.”
In a swearing-in ceremony at the offices of the Indianapolis Urban League, 16 African-Americans, 7 hispanics and 11 women joined a force that serves a city that is 28%. IMPD is 59% white.
“Indy is a great city filled with great people,” Mayor Greg Ballard told the recruits, “and you will be the person they call when they are most in need. You will see many people at their most troubling points in their life. Be their symbol of strength, comfort and peace.”
The ceremony was held after a weekend that included the shooting of an IMPD who fatally wounded his assailant and a police pursuit that left two officers injured while the city’s murder rate skyrockets.
“There are some things in life more important than yourself,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs who spent 22 years as a police officer. “For those of you who wear a badge and have a weapon that means that the citizens that you serve, their lives are more important than your own. That’s a tough decision. For those of you that aren’t ready for that…I would suggest that you resign now.”
Recruit Babacar Diouf, a native of Senegal who became a U.S. citizen and Department of Corrections employee before being accepted into the IMPD Academy listened to the director’s words intently.
“I believe there’s danger everywhere and some men and women are called to step up to face terror.
“I’m excited for everybody in the room and I think its going to be the proudest moment of my life today.
“There’s only one kid of cop. A good cop.”
IMPD expects to hire and train 80 new police officers this year and hold annual recruit classes of 50 officers per year for the next several years to reach its goal of 300 new hires if Mayor Ballard and the city county council commit to the funding.
IMPD’s manpower is listed at 1506, which doesn’t include several officers on suspension pending termination.
A recent manpower allocation study recommended hiring 300 new officers to compensate for the 42-45 officers who are expected to retire or resign each year.