Mayor Greg Ballard is firing back at comments from the Marion County prosecutor alleging that Indianapolis is in the middle of a public safety crisis.
“There are some inconvenient facts out here,” Ballard said. “The murder rate has been below 100 for the last three years. You’ve got to go back decades and decades to find that sort of statistic. Crime this year is down ten percent, violent crime is down five percent. That hardly sounds like a crisis.”
Ballard will make a budget presentation to the City-County Council next week, in which he’ll address the city’s deficit and public safety funding. Though Ballard maintains that crime numbers don’t indicate any problems, council Democrats say other numbers tell a different story.
“One murder is sufficient enough that it needs to be addressed and when you don’t have a sufficient number of homicide detectives that can show up on the scene of a homicide to do their investigation, you have a problem,” said Mary Moriarty Adams, a Democrat and member of the Public Safety Committee.
The staffing concerns throughout the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department were a prime reason why Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry wrote a letter to Mayor Ballard on Monday, calling for more funding.
“Twelve miles down I-70 at 90 and 100 miles an hour to respond to a run from 42nd and Post to the near Eastside, if you talk to patrol officers they’ll tell you that’s what they’re doing every single day,” Curry said.
Some estimate that IMPD is down some 685 officers, and many of those remaining are eligible for retirement. But despite calls to expand funding for new recruit classes, Ballard says only so much more can be done.
“Projected percentage of money going to public safety and criminal justice from this budget is 92 percent. That’s a big number,” Ballard said. “Show me another city that’s doing that.”
Both the mayor and council Democrats say a tax increase is off the table. Moriarty Adams says the mayor could push to expand the city limits for IMPD.
“The folks in the township are getting police officers to respond to their calls,” Moriarty Adams said. “But their tax dollars are not going to pay for those police officers.”
Though the mayor won’t reveal his budget plans until next week, he says his solution will deal with efficiency, such as his announcement earlier this year that the Department of Public Safety will shift more officers to the streets.
“Everybody wants more of everything, I understand that,” Ballard said. “We want more sidewalks, we want more of everything. But unless we’re fiscally responsible down the road, we don’t get anything.”