This week IMPD is launching the “Why We Serve” campaign with billboards and social media posts to convince police officers and recruits across the Midwest to come to Indianapolis.
“This happens a week after our City County Council approved one of the highest wages for new recruits in the entire Midwest,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “That amounts to nearly $62,000 in an officer’s first year, putting us at a 55% increase since 2015. Add to that a $10,000 signing bonus.”
IMPD’s authorized strength is 1,842 officers. As of Monday, there are just a few over 1,600 men and women wearing the IMPD badge.
“It’s no secret, we’re a little over 200 officers down,” said IMPD Chief Randal Taylor. “We’d really like to make that impact.”
At just 23 recruits currently in attendance at the IMPD Academy, the class of new officers is less than half its typical strength.
”That’s where our emphasis will be is getting them more officers on those streets and we’ve got 23 in the academy right now that will be coming out on the road in a relatively short period of time and that’s where they will go,” said Taylor. ”Overtime is at a high level right now. Fortunately, our officers that are working have been taking that overtime and keeping the streets safe but of course, we would like to get 200 officers in there so we could give them some relief.”
Retirements and separations at IMPD have accelerated recently due to the advanced years of service of many officers combined with a weariness of veterans to either continue serving in the city or leave the profession altogether.
As of Monday, IMPD has recorded 122 retirements and separations this year versus 70 new hires.
”The challenge here in Indianapolis has been one of the dangers of the profession and in some instances the public’s reaction to what has occurred,” said Hogsett who also reflected on the public backlash across the country to policing following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. ”IMPD doesn’t deserve to be put in that category but unfortunately in policing generally there’s a measure of skepticism. That’s why we’re being very affirmative, positive, and outward-facing in this campaign.”
Detective Desiree Biggers is one of the officers who will be featured in the IMPD campaign which offers more opportunities for quicker advancement and specialty assignments than in a smaller department.
”It has also allowed me to serve and make a difference in the city that I know and love,” she said.
One billboard planned for West 16th Street will be aimed at Spanish-speaking recruits.
”IMPD is also seeking to build a force that better reflects our city, a city that is 46% racial and ethnic minority, a city that is 52% female,” said Hogsett.
The City will spend nearly a million dollars in the year to come on enhanced recruitment efforts. IMPD encourages all residents who meet the department’s initial requirements to apply here.