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Mayoral candidate Jim Merritt hopes top cop pick will bring more democratic votes

Mayoral Candidate Jim Merritt hopes his pick for a Top Cop lands him more votes from people who would likely vote democrat.
Mayoral candidate Jim Merritt making remarks on LGBTQ+ (WTHR Staff)

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) – Indy Mayoral Candidate Jim Merritt hopes his pick for a Top Cop lands him more votes from people who would likely vote democrat.

Merritt announced he would make retired IMPD Officer Bill Benjamin as chief of police. Benjamin served as deputy chief of investigations for IMPD.

It’s an unprecedented move never done in Indiana politics, according to Benjamin.

The one-time democratic sheriff’s candidate held a news conference Tuesday morning in his church parking lot. He accepted Merritt's offer to become chief of police if Merritt should win the mayors race.

Benjamin credits the offer to his crime-fighting record while at IMPD years ago. He also talked about how since leaving IMPD, he had never been offered the Top Cop position. He did reveal talks with current mayor Joe Hogsett.

Benjamin shared that talks with Merritt included discussions about him allowing Benjamin to run the department his way, choosing his own command staff and other expectations.

He also shared that he wanted to publicly acknowledge Merritt’s offer to be police chief if Marion County voters should select Merritt to lead the city.

Merritt has been at the center of controversy during his campaign after announcing he would support a "Stop and Frisk" police for IMPD. That’s something that Benjamin does not support.

But some of Benjamin’s strongest supporters are hesitant about crossing party lines for Merritt's so-called effort to get the black vote.

Pilar Ammons is a Marion County voter who has supported Bill Benjamin for years. She makes it no secret that she votes democrat.

Ammons says she is not happy with some of the decisions that have been made locally, statewide and on the national level by Republican politicians.

She wants to see Benjamin in the Top Cop position. But she believes the entire scenario puts voters in a bind.

“As far as how I am going to vote? I am not really sure," Ammons said. "That should not be any position that any citizen should be put in to say I am going to vote for this party just to get the right person into chief of police."

Mayor Joe Hogsett responded with a statement Tuesday, praising current Police Chief Bryan Roach, saying data shows crime reductions in the past two years.

Election Day in Marion County is November 5.