IN Focus: Public safety impact of mayor’s new budget

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The city of Indianapolis will likely be hiring a lot more police officers next year but perhaps at the expense of nearly every other city department.

As the population in Marion County surges, its police force is dwindling. Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett though, is looking to close that gap.

In his 2017 budget presentation to the City County Council Monday, he announced that he’s aiming to have IMPD hire 86 new recruits, growing the entire force by 31 officers patrolling neighborhoods to tackle the city’s skyrocketing homicide rate.

“We’re facing a lot of struggles. We have a growing population; we have the largest population in the history of Indianapolis. But now we also have the largest population of individuals, low income, poverty, hunger, mental health issues, all of that’s putting a strain on government and putting a strain on policing,” said IMPD Chief Troy Riggs.

Spending on public safety accounts for more than half of the city’s budget, $665 million in part, funding:

  • $2.5 million aimed at alleviating severe overcrowding at the Marion County Jail
  • New body cameras for IMPD officers
  • And intense recruiting to diversify the police force

“The city had many, many years, like a decade that very few people of color were hired as police officers. We need to address that,” said Riggs.

“Knowing that public safety is such an urgent need, if there is a way for other departments to tighten that belt,” said City Councilman Jeff Miller (R - District 16).

While Public Safety will see a 3% increase, the rest of the city will absorb a 7% budget cut.

“We’re under water continually. Trying to rehire just to make up for those leaving, let alone the fact we’re under numbers,” said Miller.

Miller was happy to see cuts being made though. For years, the city he says has lived beyond its means by dipping into rainy day reserves to pay for projects. The city now has to build that money back.

“You want a balanced budget where you’re bringing in as much as you’re spending and we have not been doing that. We’ve been pulling from the cushion if you will,” said Miller.

Some of Hogsett’s cuts include downsizing the city’s workforce. He has not indicated how many employees that will be but has said it will not happen through layoffs.