Does Indianapolis need more police officers? Chance to sound off tonight

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Mar. 6, 2014) — One night after four officers were wounded during a shootout with a suspect on the southeast side, a bipartisan commission will ask for the public’s help in deciding whether to hire more police officers.

The Staffing Commission, which must report to the City-County Council by the end of the month, will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the Library Services Center, 2450 N. Meridian St.

Rick Snyder, a top leader with the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86, is serving on the commission and spoke with FOX59 News at length about the staffing concerns at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“It’s going to require a significant investment to attempt to get our police department where it should be, in terms of the number of officers we should have,” Snyder said.

As it stands, IMPD is bringing in 80 new recruits this year.  However, Snyder estimates the department loses roughly 50 officers each year to attrition, leaving this year’s net gain at 30.

Since the 2007 police department merger, Snyder said IMPD staffing has dropped from 1740 officers to 1500.

“Remember, we merged the police departments because we had an officer shortage and we were trying to increase our numbers,” he said.  “It’s a little ironic that here we sit now.”

As the commission decides whether more officers are needed and, if so, how many and how to pay, Snyder said one plan would be to issue an income tax increase specifically earmarked for public safety.  Raising $25 million over five years would yield a net gain of 250 officers, bringing staffing to pre-merger levels, he said.

What does that mean for the average taxpayer?  By Snyder’s rough estimate, a household earning $50,000 would pay an extra $65 per year.  For someone paid bi-weekly, that equals $2.50 per paycheck.

Raising taxes, though, is not a politically easy thing to do.  That being said, Snyder believes things changed last year, when IMPD Officer Rod Bradway was killed in the line of duty.

“I can tell you, at Officer Bradway’s funeral, I sat behind our elected officials and I watched City-County councilors just shake their head and weep during those funeral services,” Snyder said.  “Many of them came to us afterward and said, ‘We get it now.'”

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