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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Calls for defunding police in Indy

Calls to abolish police departments or reallocate portions of their funding to other programs are being heard across the country, including in Indianapolis.
(WTHR photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Calls to abolish police departments or reallocate portions of their funding to other programs are being heard across the country.

That includes Indianapolis, where city county councilors have been inundated with hundreds of emails urging them to do likewise.

It comes after the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to "disband" its department following the police-involved death of George Floyd.

"We are not talking bout hitting the eject button on the police tomorrow we're talking about engaging a plan to create a public safety system that works for everyone," Jeremiah Ellison, a police reform advocate in Minneapolis said.

Indianapolis City County Councilor Zach Adamson said the emails he's received are all very similar.

Here's a portion of one email:

"I am asking that the Indianapolis City Council push to make a more overt and visible commitment to the city and county's Black and Brown communities and to combat an over-investment in their criminalization and surveillance. I therefore demand that the Council find ways to redirect money away from the IMPD's overinflated budget. I urge you to pressure the mayor for an ethical and equal reallocation of the city's expenditures, away from the IMPD, and towards sectors that facilitate the dismantling of racial and class inequality. Now especially, the City Council can take a stand for racial justice by significantly defunding policing and investing in Black and Brown communities instead—starting with education, housing, healthcare, cooperative businesses, community centers, and community-led organizations and projects."

"I can't image a scenario where we don't have police officers responding," Adamson said.

But he also said some of arguments were "legitimately made. Despite the fact we're adding more resources in policing, they're not resulting in a reduction in crime. Our streets are not safer. There might be a better way to allocate some of that money."

Adamson said that might include more money allocated to addiction services, mental health issues and youth programs.

Roughly $254 million or a third of the city's budget goes to IMPD, with the vast majority of that funding salaries, overtime and benefits.

Rick Snyder, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said cutting IMPD' budget is not the answer, "especially at a time we're seeing record murder rates."

Synder said the department had been under-funded for two decades, was just now coming off back-to-back years of a hiring freeze.

"Our residents made it clear to us they wanting more policing, not less, including when they passed a public safety tax to hire more officers," Snyder said. "It would be inappropriate to do a 'bait-and-switch' on taxpayers now."

13News reached out to several other councilors but had not yet heard back.

Adamson said how IMPD is funded and whether any money should be reallocated would likely be discussed when the council begins the budget process in August.

Mayor Hogsett sent this response to 13News regarding police funding:

"We are aware of discussions occurring in Minneapolis and other cities that involve what some have called "defunding" or "abolishing" police departments.

There may be a time and a place where those policies can be examined and discussed in Indianapolis, but today we are focused on our plan to spend nearly $80 million on programming that will address the impact that COVID-19 has had on our city – and disproportionately our communities of color. This includes expanded testing and tracing capacity, investments in small business relief, and millions of dollars in social service support including $25 million for a rental assistance program."