INDIANAPOLIS — Adam De Both spent more than eight years as a sheriff’s deputy patrolling Bartholomew County after breaking in with the Indiana University Police Department.

Now De Both is a patrolman on IMPD’s Southeast District, enticed by better pay and the opportunity to leave Columbus for Indy.

“Coming from a smaller agency there are some constraints on what you’re able to do just off the crime that’s in that area,” said De Both, reflecting on his law enforcement career before taking his first shifts in Indianapolis. ”Depending on what beat area, what zone you’re in, it’ll be a completely different population type. You’ll go from trying to deal with someone speaking Spanish to someone who speaks Burmese. Every run, every call, depending on what beat you’re on, is a completely different world.”

De Both is one of more than a dozen veteran officers this last year who entered IMPD’s lateral transfer program which fast-tracks cops who have been already trained to fill the jobs left open by retired and separated patrolmen and women in Indianapolis.

”At the end of the year, we’re planning on having 1,591 sworn officers. We’ve had approximately 134 separations expected at the end of the year,” said Sgt. Genae Cook. ”Having one more officer helps fill the shoes of those 134 that are retiring or separating from IMPD for one reason or another.”

IMPD hired only 75 new recruits this year to replace the veterans who left the department, with just over two dozen new officers in the current recruit class that’s only half of its typical strength.

The department recently launched its “Why We Serve” campaign to step up recruitment and place billboards in target cities throughout the immediate Midwest.

”We’re also seeing people from the areas where we placed billboards calling us, looking into our positions, trying to find out about our department and putting in applications,” said Cook.

New officers can expect to earn more than $70,000 their first year on the job at IMPD, not to mention the overtime the department pays to work shifts left empty by thinning ranks.

Mayor Joe Hogsett has authorized IMPD to employ 1,843 officers.

By the end of this year, the Metro PD expects to have just 1,591 men and women on the force.

De Both said he is proud to be one of the lateral transfer recruits who has stepped up to fill those gaps.

”It feels great to be part of a well-established department with a phenomenal culture that I learn something new about every day,” he said. ”I get people constantly asking me, ‘If you look back and you had to do it all over again, with what you know now, would you still do it?’ and I say, ‘Absolutely, no question about it.’”