IMPD staffing commission discusses options to fund more officers

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Just how many new police officers does Indianapolis need, and where should long-term funding for those positions, come from? Those are the questions the IMPD Staffing Commission is hoping to answer.

The bipartisan commission formed in November of 2013.

Their third meeting Thursday night was designed to allow the public to comment.

Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry attended as well as a few community members and council member Christine Scales – along with others.

“Our officers are concerned because we’re not even in the warm season yet, when traditionally, crime is going to increase. What they’re seeing is an increase in violence, or a tendency for violence, from the people and the suspects they’re interacting with,” said Rick Synder, with Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police.

“The fact remains that we’re hundreds short,and while we sit and talk about it, these officers are going out and putting their lives on the line, without the necessary back up and support that they need. They do it day in and day out,” he said.

The council is considering a number of options when it comes to funding new officers.

One option is eliminating the homestead tax credit.

Another option is payment in lieu of taxes, or asking those entities who don’t currently have to pay property taxes to contribute.

Yet another potential way to fund those officers would be to try to recoup some of the funding from major events in the city where IMPD provides public safety. They estimate the city used about $620,000 in 2013 to staff events across the city.

“Those aren’t the only fees that are incurred. We have about 180 other special events that go on in the year that we need traffic management for and those incur also about $600,000 dollars or more a year,” said council member Christine Scales, who spoke during the public hearing.

Another option is to increase the public safety income tax.

Snyder estimates that could bring in around $25 million dollars a year. He estimates an average taxpayer making $50,000 a year, would pay about $2.50 every two weeks, or $65 a year.

He said that could potentially bring in 250 new officers.

“Now it’s about choices, and frankly consequences of what we’re going to do here and whether or not our elected officials – and really all of us in the community- have the will to stand up and take those necessary steps,” said Synder.

He added in the meeting, since the merger in 2007, IMPD has gone from 1740 officers to 1500 right now.

Audwynn Newman and his girlfriend came to the meeting saying they’re hoping to help within the community. Newman said he’s pleased with the discussion happening and he said he had hoped more of the public would come and give their input.

“I’m just a concerned citizen, hoping to make connection with some of those citizens before they do those things,” said Newman. “For our city to end up as progressive as we want it to be, I think we all kind of have to collaborate, and come up with creative ways to get through to the community.”

A final report from the commission is due March 31.

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