INDIANAPOLIS — Between violent crime and Indy sporting events, IMPD officers often must work longer than normal to protect the city. We checked department records and found IMPD officers are working more overtime in 2021 than they did last year.
Assistant Chief Chris Bailey said $1.3 million was spent on overtime for the March Madness tournament.
“When you host 65 teams in a major basketball tournament with fans coming from all over the country, you have to do what you have to do to keep people safe,” Bailey said.
In addition to the $1.3 million, the department’s spent roughly $6.3 million in overtime so far this year. That’s up from about $5.1 million in 2020.
“So, if you were to remove [March Madness] from where we are this year, we’d actually be sitting less than we were this time last year,” Bailey explained.
Bailey said there is more spots to backfill when officers are out on leave as the department puts a focus on beat policing.
“We want to make sure that we fill them and we’re being reasonable and responsible with money and our staffing,” Bailey said.
Bailey said working covert operations for the federal government also cuts into the budget.
“Those folks that just spent months on a drug trafficking organization, the Safe Streets Task Force with the FBI,” Bailey said. “All that money is included in that as well, reimbursed to us by the federal government.”
Bailey said the department’s spent increasingly more money in overtime since at least 2018. Responding to civil unrest in 2020 required lots of extra hours.
“The multitude of protests that we staffed,” Bailey said. “During those weeks of civil unrest at the end of May and the beginning of June, we had the entire agency on 12-hour shifts. I know after 8.5 hours, you’re on overtime.”
IMPD is also doing more with less officers than they want to have: 1743. IMPD just graduated a class of 59 recruits and their second class of 50 starts in August, which should bring the department to 1700 officers. But violent crime, particularly in tourist areas, means officers have more work.
“So, they’re out working overtime to make sure these events are safe and that our downtown is safe and that Broad Ripple and that other entertainment areas around the city are safe,” Bailey said.
The department has roughly $211 million to cover the cost of providing officers for our community. On average, they spend $10 million to $11 million annual for overtime.
“As we continue to grow as a city, as we continue to invite more events and more conventions, we have to be able to make sure those folks are safe as well as maintaining our presence in the communities,” Bailey said.
Bailey said IMPD reserve officers, about 65 reserve officers who help with events, save the city about $1 million annually because they are not paid.
Bailey said he has no indication the department will go over their budget for personnel costs in 2021 at this time.