Marion County sheriff addresses proposed cuts to service, as other departments raise concerns

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UPDATE (Aug. 31, 2017)-- Marion County Sheriff John Layton says arrestee transport and hospital services will continue until Jan. 1, 2018. Read more here.

Original story:

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. —Marion County Sheriff John Layton is defending his announcement of proposed cuts to major services his department provides for other law enforcement agencies, while other departments prepare to handle more responsibilities.

Layton sent out a memo Monday night to law enforcement agencies outlining his plan, and Tuesday pointed to concerns over staffing and costs.

“Over the years it's been so much rising cost of doing this business,” Layton said.

He said next month he’ll close the Arrestee Processing Center, where some judges were already leaving. It’s where inmates are taken before they are moved to the county jail. Instead, they will go to lock-up at the City-County Building. He also said he plans to stop transporting prisoners from the site of arrest for other agencies and providing hospital security services.

“These other things are not a responsibility by state code or local ordinance for the sheriff to do nor do they do them in any other county in Indiana,” Layton said.

Layton said he’s losing six deputies a month in part because of low pay and deputies leaving for private enterprises. That means he’s paying out millions of dollars in overtime to the deputies he has left.

“One way I can fix that overtime probably about over $2 million in over time a year, is to take those 32 deputies we have in the wagons, take the 20 deputies we have at Eskenazi Hospital and bring them back in the jail which is a responsibility by state code that the sheriff has to take care of the jail,” Layton said. “These other things are not a responsibility by state code or local ordinance for the sheriff to do nor do they do them in any other county in Indiana.”

But the changes mean other law enforcement agencies in Marion County are getting ready to take on more responsibility and figuring out what to do next. While some departments said they’ll make the changes work, others raised concerns on the impact of the sheriff’s plan.

“With the limited number of officers that we have we’re gonna have officers out of service, going down to hospitals and having to stay with prisoners and having to take them down to jail,” Cumberland Police Corporal Michael Davidson said.

He said that raises concerns about strains on response times for non-emergency calls, staffing and finances.

“We start putting a plan together on how we're going to maintain, what we need to do and get through it the best that we can,” he said.

The Cumberland Metropolitan Police Department is not the only department putting a plan together.

Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn, who is running for sheriff in the upcoming election, said it could have a huge impact. His department may need to add 10 more officers to make the new system work and  make sure that they have two cars.

Lawrence Police Chief Gary Woodruff said in years past and on occasion they have transported those in custody.

“We know the Jail Wagon service currently provided by the sheriff is accomplished as a courtesy, for which we remain grateful, yet we are always prepared to provide our own transportation when required,” Woodruff wrote in a statement.

IMPD has also transported prisoners in the past.

"We've had discussions with the sheriff as early as the first part of last year about transport and their issues and the APC, wagons and so I think we'll continue those conversations," IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said Monday.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said as of Tuesday morning he had not talked to the sheriff but looked forward to conversations.

“I welcome those discussions and what we would do is simply transfer the monies that had been allocated to the sheriff’s budget over to IMPD and I’m sure that that would be entirely possible,” Hogsett said.

Layton made his announcement just two hours before the mayor presented his proposed budget, which includes more than $600,000 in cuts to the sheriff’s department, to the city county council Monday night. Layton said it was bad timing on his part.

“Had nothing to do with the mayor, matter of fact I championed the mayor’s budget and everything he has put together,” Layton said.

The Indianapolis FOP released this statement:

"We learned late yesterday of the announcement of the Marion County Sheriff regarding arrestee transportation and other public safety responsibilities.

 While we have concerns about the narrow timeline proposed for such a transition, we have confidence in the ability of the IMPD Chief of Police to manage the situation.

 In the interim, a thorough review of the resources and assets needed for such a transition should be explored especially as it relates to the ripple effects placed upon IMPD and other local law enforcement agencies related to staffing, resources and equipment.

 This should include an analysis of any such budgetary allocations, equipment transfers and personnel equivalents made to the Sheriff's Department when they assumed these responsibilities as part of the merger in 2007."


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