City leaders debate over how many IMPD officers should be hired

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Feb. 18, 2015) - City leaders agree that more IMPD officers are needed to make the streets safer.  The disagreement is about the number of officers.

Wednesday night The Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously to pass a proposal to spend nearly $12 million to hire 155 officers.

"I'm elated. Elated. Ready to jump for joy," says IMPD Chief Rick Hite.  If passed, the 155 officers will be hired this year and split between two different classes.

The funding is from last year's public safety tax increase.

"Let's hire more now on the front end to really tackle this crisis of crime in our city and more quickly get our department to the staffing level it should be at," explains Indianapolis FOP President Rick Synder.

The council proposal's conflicts with Mayor Greg Ballard's plan.

"No we supported 115 officers, we originally were going to do 80 and figured out a way to get 115, but see, here’s the problem you have to do a budget to set-up for year after year after year. If you just set it up for one year, then you’re going to fail in the out years and that’s how cities go broke. So we figured out how to get more officers in a way that’s sustainable over the years, and that’s what we have to do," said Mayor Ballard.

Ballard continued to stress that more officers alone are not going to solve the problem when it comes to fighting violence in the city. The mayor has pushed for a holistic approach to reducing crime. He pushed city-wide preschool to reach out to kids at a young age.

The 155 officer proposal will go to the full council.  If passed, the proposal will then go to the Mayor Ballard.

The IMPD Staffing Commission, a bi-partisan task force, recently studied the issue of police workforce levels. It issued a recommendation in April of 2014 that called for hiring 500 officers over the next five years.