IMPD is short staffed, but by how much?

Three soon-to-be IMPD officers leave the training academy.
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David MacAnally/Eyewitness News

Indianapolis - The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is looking for a lot more than a few good men and women. The newly merged department could be more than a hundred officers short of where it should be. But the Mayor disputes that gap and says help is on the way.

Mayor Peterson says a flood of new officers will come on the force in the next year-and-a-half. New recruits will wipe out any shortfall in officers, but the police union says not likely.

In spite of the continuing training at the police training academy, the city can't graduate new recruits fast enough.

"We are concerned. We have been concerned," said Aaron Sullivan with the Fraternal Order of Police. "We will be concerned until the numbers are where they need to be."

The new Metropolitan Police Department is authorized to have over 1,600 sworn officers on the force. But depending on how you read the numbers the force is short of that, anywhere from about a dozen up to 120 sworn officers short. One source told Eyewitness News it is about 100.

"Our members have had to go from run to run to run and without backup being present," said Sullivan. 

"We don't agree with that number," said Indianapolis Mayor Bart Peterson. "We're really only down nine."

And the Mayor says once the current class of graduates completes their field training and a second class of 50 more hits the field, the department will be up to full strength in sworn officers.

"We're in a bad position with the numbers of police officers we're experiencing right now," said Sullivan.

Sullivan says with new retirements the department will be lucky to break even by the end of 2008, let alone add officers.

"You're looking at 80 or 90 retirements and that's just what they know of," he said.

Earlier we told you how police consolidation initially slowed down response times in some areas and improved service in others. But the Mayor says "We're on the right track. The merger has gone extremely well with no distruptions to the neighborhoods or to officers."

And on the south side we found residents pleased with the level of police service. 

"Yeah, I see them all the time," said one.

Another also seemed pleased. "There's plenty of police."

The difference in the numbers seems to go back to whether you count officers in training or waiting to start training. If you don't count those officers and factor in FOP's retirement estimates you get a bigger gap between reality and authorized strength.

One difference between the numbers seems to be whether you count the recruits still in training. If you do the gap is small. If you don't, and you think about future retirements, the gap is wide.