Efficiency team recommends more officers, better training for IMPD
A new report recommends more officers, better training and improved communication as ways to improve police morale at the Indianapolis Metro Police Department.
The report was done by one of the efficiency teams established by Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. The 13-member team, which began looking at police morale in January, was composed of officers, city county councilors, other county officials and citizens.
Riggs said when he took over public safety eight months ago, "every story I saw mentioned poor police morale and when I was at roll calls, I'd see it in person."
Riggs replaced former public safety director Frank Straub who clashed repeatedly with police during his two-and-a-half year tenure. A Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) member survey taken in 2010 showed the vast majority of officers felt the department was moving in the wrong direction and that officers didn't have the support of their director.
Riggs said his goal in assigning the team was to address the problem and find solutions. The 28 recommendations cover three areas: manpower, communications and training and welfare. They call for everything from considering 10-hour shifts and preventing unnecessary court appearances to defining a more uniform discipline and providing social opportunities for officers and their families.
FOP president Bill Owensby said, "Kudos to the director for putting together the team. The only way this will help is if they implement as much of it as they can."
Owensby said the FOP began pushing for many of the same things two years ago and though "morale improved instantly" when Straub left, some of the same frustrations remain. He's glad to see "hire more officers" topping the list under manpower.
"It's not an accident it's number one, it's a huge huge issue that's going to affect every city in the county," Owensby said.
Marion County prosecutor Terry Curry agrees, "We see it in our office first hand hand how understaffed IMPD is. Clearly it's reaching crisis proportions."
But as Riggs noted, it's perhaps the hardest recommendation to put in place.
He said, "I think everyone went into the meeting knowing we're not going to get a large influx of cash, but they did come away with ways to become more efficient and effective. One thing we said was let's try to keep our numbers stable and we've done that with a plan through 2016."
As for other recommendations, he said they've already allocated more officers to patrol, set up ways to improve communication and have agreed to test ten-hour shifts as well as encourage citizen ride-alongs.
"What I like about all of this, is we started this because morale was low but at the end, we're not just talking issues that improve morale but we're showcasing the department. These are things we can do at a nominal cost but there's a lot of validity to it," Riggs said.
As for Owensby's concern that it wind up like most other studies - forgotten?
Riggs responded,"The one thing I promised the workforce is that if we take the time and effort to study the situation, we're not going to put it on the shelf. It's a working document. There will be a point person in charge and we'll be monitoring to make sure" it's not forgotten.@
1. Hire More Officers
2. Allocate More Officers to Patrol
3. Request Police Allocation Team to Review Runs Dispatched
4. Better Use of/more Public Assistance Officers
5. Consider 10-hour Shifts
6. Prevent Unnecessary Court Appearances
7. Enhanced Volunteer/Reserve Program
1. Create and Clearly Define a More Uniform Discipline
2. Clear and Concise Communication of Changes to General Orders
3. Highlight Wins Internally and Externally
4. Uniformity of Cars, Badges, Uniforms, Business Cards for Internal and External Communications
5. Create Talking Point for Leadership to Communicate Better with Patrol Officers
6. Consistent Roll Calls Countywide
7. Weekly Email from the Chief
8. Weekly Union /Officer Organization Meetings with the Chief
9. Encourage Citizen Ride-Alongs
10. Better Communicate the Availability of Employee Assistance Programs
11. Hire an IMPD Communications Specialist for Improved Internal Communications
TRAINING AND WELFARE
1. Leadership Training for Roll Call Leaders
2. Provide More Training for Officers
3. Encourage Leadership to Recognize Employees More Often
4. Uniformity of Cards, Badges, Uniforms, Business Card for Internal and External Communications
5. Make Weekend Roll Calls Meaningful
6. Provide Specialized Training for Officers Re-Allocated to Patrol
7. Encourage/Promote Wellness Programs for Mental and Physical-Being
8. Ensure Distribution of Cars Goes to Those Who Most Need Them
9. Social Opportunities for Officers and Their Families
10. Recruit Volunteers to Pray for Police