Monday, July 8, 2013
Public Safety's Big Day
After a holiday weekend full of violence and the very real problem that there may not be enough police officers to even do crowd control at major events in the city, citizens of Indianapolis are waking up to and feeling more of the problems of public safety in the city.
Later today, Mayor Greg Ballard is due to announce his plan to put more police on the streets. The Mayor's allies are trumpeting the fact that Ballard's plan will put more police on the streets, and it's paid for. Tonight, the City-County Council will consider whether or not to overturn Mayor Ballard's veto of a bi-partisan proposal to put more police on the streets. Ballard vetoed the plan due to budget concerns, but the Council's plan was paid for, too.
By way of review, the Council plan would hire more police officers by taking money from the Rebuild Indy fund. It would be a $6 million quick hit to help bolster the force and get more police on the streets. Given the normal turnover in the department, the long term viability of the plan should not have been a question. That's, however, the justification that Mayor Ballard used in vetoing it.
His plan is to put approximately 100 police on the streets from desk jobs. According to Fox 59, 80 or so of those will be neighborhood resource officers. The same resource officers that do community policing, right? These resource officers should be on the front lines, but they should not be walking the beat. I think they should be in the community educating folks on how to reduce and prevent crime in their neighborhoods.
The Mayor's allies have also been beating the "more police isn't the answer" drum as well in the aftermath of Ballard's veto of the original plan. Apparently, even Ballard doesn't believe that. Furthermore, if Ballard knew that the staffing level was a problem, then why didn't he do something about it? He's been in office since 2008.
Here's a radical idea. Since both plans would be paid for in the budget, why don't we do both. Ballard's 100 new police officers would be a stop-gap measure while we train and recruit more officers under the Council plan. That way we might actually start moving towards relieving the massive understaffing problems present at IMPD.
I remember a few years ago prior to the IPD-MCSD merger when the Meadows area was experiencing a spike in crime. The Marion County Sheriff's Department flooded the area with patrols. Crime went down.
While it is true, as the Mayor's allies point out, that many of the people killing each other right now in our city have previous mugshots. We must not allow our city to become like Medellin in the early 1990's. No matter who is shooting who, it is not acceptable.
The answer to part of this mess is more enforcement. It's more education. It may involve more taxpayer money, too. If that keeps us from building a cricket stadium or attracting another Super Bowl then so be it.