As the budget debate continues at the City-County Council level, one thing remains the same. The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department did not become understaffed overnight, and Mayor Greg Ballard has known that the issue has existed since he took office.
In fact, it was Ballard that said he could add officers to the streets back in 2007 without asking for more of our money. I don't remember for certain what the number of officers that he wanted to add was, but it was significant.
Of course, Ballard has spent a lot of time recently telling us that more officers aren't the answer and that it's better policing. He undermined his own argument back in July by releasing a plan to put more officers on the streets of Indianapolis. That plan has now come with dollars attached as part of the $432 million public safety budget. Troy Riggs is good at his job, but he will have to be David Copperfield to solve the woes facing the department.
The goal, according to media reports like this one from WISH, is to put 100 new officers on the street within a year while shifting appropriate duties to civilian employees and combining those reassignments with new recruits.
I'm sure this will be presented by the Ballard Administration as a take-it-or-leave-it approach that won't have any wiggle room from their end for negotiation. I'm sure that the Ballard Administration will use all the tactics to portray anyone that asks questions as against public safety when he had the opportunity to ease overcrowding by simply choosing cops over cricket.
That's not though. Some say Mayor Ballard has neglected other possible ways to solve the understaffing issue. The Fraternal Order of Police has penned a letter saying that Ballard has ignored monetary savings and some of their ideas to help fill the massive staffing gap in.
None of this changes the fact I mentioned at the start of this piece. IMPD has been understaffed for years...since it merged, in fact. Mayor Greg Ballard knew that when he was candidate Greg Ballard, and he has done nothing until now. Remind him of that when he's calling you anti-public safety for asking questions.