INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - The city's homicide total is well on its way to break another record and now more bad news. This week, the Seattle Police Department is in town to conduct lateral testing in an effort to lure officers from Indiana and across the country to the Pacific Northwest.
However, IMPD cannot afford to lose manpower. It's struggling to reach its own staffing goals.
According to IMPD, this year the goal is to have 1,712 officers on staff, but with several unexpected retirements they will likely just make it to the 1,700 mark.
Next year's target is even higher at 1,743 officers.
FOX59 sat down with Chief Bryan Roach five weeks before Seattle's visit to find out how they were going to respond?
"It's not going to be a war, right?" said Roach. "We'll have to talk about that. I plan on reaching out to the (Seattle) Chief too. And having that discussion. But at the same time, I am doing the same thing. I'm asking for a lateral class of officers to come to Indianapolis in December."
It's not exactly the same thing.
The department is conducting a lateral entry class this year, but it is recruiting lateral hires from within the State of Indiana, not out of state.
"This first lateral effort we had to keep within the State of Indiana," explained Deputy Chief Valerie Cunningham, who oversees IMPD's Recruitment Unit. "Now, when we have the time for the backgrounds and they have time to sign up and they have to go through a review to get into the Indiana Public Employees Retirement Fund, we can go nationwide on that search."
Plus, this is only the second time in some 25 years that IMPD will have a lateral entry class, according to Cunningham.
"This is the second attempt in my career - and I've been on 26 years - this is the second time we've done this lateral entry class. So our December class will have some individuals in it that are already in law enforcement."
The only time the departments three full-time recruitment officers do go out of state is when they are recruiting new applicants like college students.
And they focus on places in the Midwest like Michigan and Illinois.
"You can go to other states, but we have found sometimes that we don't have the success in recruiting them here, because their family is generally where we go to. And at some point, it becomes they want to be close to their family. And then that becomes a conflict with them," said Cunningham.
The department has said it will not lower its standards to bring in more bodies. Instead, it's trying to help new recruits pass by holding prep sessions and pre-academy workshops.
It's also trying to change the message about who police officers are. That's why IMPD just released a new recruitment video.
"What we're looking for is somebody that cares about people. Somebody that wants to serve," said Roach. "So the better we can display our ability to serve and our care for people, just naturally people will want to raise their hand and say I want to be one of those."
FOX59 reached back out to the city again to find out if IMPD had any plans in response to Seattle PD's visit this week.
A spokesperson told us there are no special plans, but there are several scheduled recruitment events.
The IMPD recruiting unit is continuing to actively engage with the community over the next couple weeks, although it’s worth noting that none of these activities were planned in response to Seattle’s efforts — the recruiting unit is continuously out in the community building stronger relationships with residents and working to grow our police force.
These are the recruitment events planned for this week:
- 11/8 – recruiting unit will participate in career day at New Augusta Public Academy from 9 a.m. – 11 a.m.
- 11/9 – recruiting unit visit to Roncalli High School from 7:30 – 9 a.m.
- 11/13 and 14 – recruiting unit will participate in a first responder info session with IPS students at the University of Indianapolis from 3:45 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.