Plea to hire more police officers heads to Washington D.C.

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By: Liz Gelardi

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indiana’s congress members will hear concerns about IMPD staffing levels.

The Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) sent President Bill Owensby  and Vice President Rick Snyder to meet with elected officials. The trip has taken on a sense of urgency since Officer Perry Renn was killed in the line of duty on July fifth.

The FOP leaders flew out to Washington D.C. early Tuesday morning. They will sit down with Senator Joe Donnelly, Senator Dan Coats, U.S. Representative Susan Brooks and U.S. Representative Andre Carson.

“This takes people that hold the purse strings to do this kind of thing, whether it’s the council, or the mayor, or Washington DC somebody has to do and stop talking,” said Bill Owensby, President of the FOP Lodge 86.

The FOP originally planned this trip to present the findings of the IMPD Staffing Commission. The bi-partisan task force issued a recommendation to hire 500 officers over the next five years. Members suggested paying for additional officers by phasing out the homestead tax credit and increasing the public safety tax.

The commission also recommended applying for Federal COPS grants for the years 2015, 2016 and 2017. The mayor’s office confirmed the city did not submit an application for the grant. The mayor’s spokesperson said it would have been irresponsible to apply for it because there is not enough money to fund the positions after the grant expires.

FOP leaders made a similar trip last year where they told congress members they were worried officers would get hurt. This visit to D.C. comes after Officers Rod Bradway and Perry Renn were killed in the line of duty. The recent violence prompted Police Chief Rick Hite to say the city was “under attack.” Statistics show nine officers have been shot and 30 officers have been involved in incidents where they were shot at or ended up shooting a suspect.

“Somebody has got to do something, and just like I said it’s time for people to stop talking about it. I’m tired of talking about it, you’re tired of listening,” said Owensby.

City-County Council President Maggie Lewis responded to questions about hiring more officer by saying everything is on the table. She said the council will move forward with exploring those options. Council Vice President John Barth said he is working on a proposal that could be introduced as early as next month.

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