INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 7, 2015)-- For the last time, Mayor Greg Ballard instructed a class of police recruits to raise their right hands and swear an oath to protect and serve the people of Indianapolis, even lay down their lives for people they may never know.
The 12th IMPD Recruit Class reports for duty at the Police Academy Tuesday morning.
“And I challenged each of you to think about, not only today but each day from here on out, what type of police officer do you want to be?” Ballard asked the recruits.
IMPD currently has 1576 sworn officers with approximately 30-40 on light duty due to injuries or other assignments.
A recent study found Indianapolis should have 1800 officers to protect a city of 800,000.
54 veteran officers will leave IMPD in 2015 and another 16 have signed up for retirement next year.
The 79 officers of the new recruit class will hit the streets in the third quarter of 2016 while the 11th recruit class recently left the academy to accompany field training officers on patrol.
James Beliles was one of more than 1800 applicants who filled out paperwork to join the latest class.
“I think there’s a couple barriers, cultural barriers there,” said Beliles when asked about the biggest challenges he faces in becoming an IMPD officer. “There’s dealing with some ethnicities that I may not be familiar with, language barriers of that nature, but I’m open to opportunities.”
Recruit Kristen Hartman is married to a police officer.
“I have a ten year old son and I want his community to be safe for him so as he is growing up I want him to live in a safe community,” she said.
It was on Ballard’s watch that the strength of the police department fell below 1500.
Ballard leaves office at the end of the year to be succeeded by Mayor-Elect Joe Hogsett.
Public Safety Director David Wantz and Police Chief Rick Hite do not yet know if they will be requested to stay on in their present positions under the new mayor.
“We’re different here than in other places in Indianapolis,” Hite told the recruits. “The people in this city care. They rally around the police. They’ll support you but they’ll also hold you accountable.”
The Ballard Administration said it has budgeted enough funds in 2016 to not only hire the new recruit class but outfit the officers with cars and gear.
Last week Wantz turned down Hite’s request to approach the IMPD Merit Board with a plan to promote approximately 90 police officers to the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant and captain.
“I’d like to see what our staffing chart looks like. I’d like to see where the holes are and after how you intend to fill those because that’s an important piece for us to get right,” said Wantz who was also disappointed that IMPD’s 2016 budget did not reflect the costs of the higher salaries.
Wantz also said he has found no evidence to confirm widespread concerns of reports of 100% scores on the recent promotions test.