City spends nearly $1M at troubled Regional Operations Center - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

City spends nearly $1M at troubled Regional Operations Center

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INDIANAPOLIS -

The city has handed over nearly a million dollars for an operations center IMPD can't use. It's money officers on the street could have used for technology and new cars.

13 Investigates takes a closer look at the growing frustration over tracking what's been spent on the ROC deal and written off.

For the first time, invoices provide a look at what the city billed the owner of the safety-plagued Regional Operations Center during months of fire watch.

It cost $15,000 the first month, followed by more than $16,000, and then another $12,000, $9,000 and $15,000.

In all, just shy of $70,000 was spent for Indianapolis firefighters to simply walk the grounds around the clock, looking for potential fire hazards. That was before the ROC was evacuated.

Now, 13 Investigates has learned no payments have been made and the city confirms the invoices are off the table.

"There were just bigger fish to fry and bigger things to go after," said Deputy Public Safety Director Valeria Washington. She says the fire watch money was negotiated away.

Last year, the city made lease payments of $57,000 a month for a total of nearly $700,000.

Where did the money come from?

Washington says IMPD is footing part of the bill for leasing space at the ROC.

"We did have to shift some things around," said Washington. "Having to budget for $700,000 is a pretty good chunk of change, so there are some things that we've probably had to reprioritize."

FOP President Bill Owensby has been vocal about the condition of IMPD's fleet.

"The city has not replaced the fleet at all. We are operating on a dangerously unsafe fleet," Owensby explained.

13 Investigates asked Washington about the loss of police funds.

"Yeah, if we didn't have to budget for lease payments, we probably would have used it for technology or for vehicles possibly," she said.

A City-County Council investigative committee looking at the ROC deal says it is now meeting with delays trying to uncover critical information.

"It just seems like things are just not coming in the manner it needs to come in order for us to do this investigation," said Committee Chairman Joe Simpson.

Frustrated members questioned a city attorney Wednesday night.

"We don't have the basic loan documents detailing how much Mr. Carroll and his entities borrowed," announced Councilman Fred Biesecker, who says he has been asking the Office of Corporation Council since November 15 to turn over key documents.

City attorney Andy Siehart says he took over in July of last year and shares the committee's frustration.

"Some documents we simply don't have. I don't have the loan documents," he told the committee. "There's no file that I can go to to say, 'Here they all are.'"

"I know what I want to see," said City-County Councilman Vop Osili, referring to code enforcement and inspection reports. "If we don't get them, I want them subpoenaed."

City Legal is promising to provide more documents within 30 days.

Meanwhile, the city says a fuel surcharge on take-home vehicles will help IMPD cover the cost of maintenance for its fleet.

Officers living in Marion County with take-home vehicles will pay $65 a month. According to Public Safety, $60 will cover the cost to fill up an 18-gallon tank at $3.25 per gallon. The remaining five dollars will go toward two oil changes throughout the year. The oil changes are estimated to cost $30 each.

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