IMPD calls for funding to hire hundreds of new officers

Troy Riggs, Public Safety Director
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"We have got to change the way we do business."

FOP President Bill Owensby's words summed up the sentiment at a Tuesday afternoon news conference held by Indianapolis Metro Police and other public safety leaders.

The news conference follows a violent weekend that left seven injured in a shooting in Broad Ripple and IMPD Officer Perry Renn dead after a shootout with a suspect. At times, city leaders took on an angry tone, promising that they would not be intimidated, nor would they shirk their responsibilities.

"Our community needs to make the decision: are we willing to invest in our own safety to stand the line and stop what is occurring in our community, or are we going to pull back, bury our heads in the sand an hope that this goes away? I can assure you, it is not. Evil does follow the path of least resistance. Criminals follow the path of least resistance," said Rick Snyder, FOP vice president.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs is hoping to add anywhere from 100 to 200 new officers to the force over the next few years. The Fraternal Order of Police says IMPD stands to lose 50-100 officers due to attrition - and, in the tragic case of Officer Renn, fatal incidents.

Riggs repeated his call for a twenty-year minimum sentencing for gun crimes involving sexual assault - something the Indiana legislature rejected during the last session. A ten-year minimum sentencing, Owensby said, would have led to 15 to 20 recent homicide suspects still being in prison.

"We've got to stop looking at bed spaces as something to bargain out," Owensby said.

"Officers did their job," Riggs said. "I think they were let down." He was referring to violent Indianapolis north side invasions where the suspects were allowed out of prison after being convicted of serious violent crimes. "Too many people are getting out of prison too soon."

"We can't be asked or tasked with arresting and re-arresting and re arresting the same people. There has got to be change," said Bill Owensby.

Riggs called for an elimination of the homestead tax credit to help pay for 100-200 new officers. "We have to have new revenue," he said.

In all, IMPD needs $25 million. Aside from the homestead tax credit being eliminated, leaders called for a public safety tax increase. That would pay for a total of 250 additional officers. That would translate to someone making $50,000 a year paying an additional $65 a year.

"For less than the price of a cup of coffee each week," said Snyder, IMPD could get the hundreds of officers it needs. "But somebody has to act and somebody has to lead."

IMPD Chief Rick Hite said his department has looked in every "nook and cranny" to allocate resources to patrols, but he said more funding was needed.

"Yes, the city's under attack...and yes, in fact, people pushed back. I'm here to tell you the men and women of this department stand ready to continue the good fight, but we need your help," Hite said.