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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A preliminary assessment of the Marion County Sheriff’s Office finds the department is under staffed and under funded as it currently runs, but recommends operational changes.

The mayor asked for the review last fall. Wednesday night, the Office of Public Audit and Performance updated councilors on the public safety and criminal justice committee on the assessment so far, being done by an outside firm, on the night of a budget vote.

“There are opportunities to increase efficiencies and operations in the sheriff’s office,” Director of the Office of Audit and Performance Hope Tribble said.

The assessment is looking into how the sheriff office’s finances and operations, specifically the vehicle fleet, budget and arrestee services.

“I was actually happy to hear it came back with what Sheriff Layton has been telling us all along that he’s underfunded and I think he’s doing a really good job with the funds he has been receiving,” Councilor Jared Evans said.

“Maybe they’re underfunded and understaffed but that’s assuming they do business as usual and the recommendations so far are there are a number of inefficiencies that need to be addressed,” Councilor Scott Kreider said.

The assessment so far found a 128 percent increase in overtime, with less people hire and retained, more demand and below market wages. It also found an increase in things like jail bookings, the daily jail population and warrants.

There’s still more data needed to get a complete analysis of arrestee transport services. The assessment does preliminary recommend operational changes.

“There are functions that could actually combined or that there are additional ways to reduce demand for the sheriff’s services, so that would be sheriff services such as arrestee services,” Tribble said.

The report comes as the sheriff asked for about $4.5 million more than what Mayor Hogsett offered for next year’s budget. The preliminary assessment recommends no increase or decrease in the sheriff’s funding until inefficiencies are addressed and recommendations implemented.

“That tells me there’s some things that can be done to conserve resources, use them better, use them more wisely,” Councilor Kreider said.

“I think now there’s evidence as we move into 2019 we need to really focus on how can we fund him better to do the specific duty he’s supposed to do as sheriff,” Councilor Evans said.

It will be something for a new sheriff to handle next year.

“The recommendations are meaty and give a really good road map for the new sheriff to use,” Tribble said.

The councilors voted to pass the public safety and criminal justice portion of the proposed budget out of committee. The budget still must have a full council vote.

The final report is expected by the end of December.