With no money in the mayor's proposed budget to hire new police officers, some groups are raising concerns about what the dwindling ranks will mean for public safety.
Manpower levels within the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department have fallen below 1,600 officers, the lowest level in the past five years, with the city hiring only 17 new officers during that time, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.
According to a survey of comparable cities, Indianapolis has approximately 1,600 patrolling 372 square miles, while Columbus, Ohio, has nearly 1,900 officers patrolling 212 square miles and Detroit has nearly 2,800 officers patrolling 143 square miles.
Elsewhere in Indiana, Fort Wayne has more than twice the number of officers as IMPD's North District covering the same number of patrol miles.
"We not only don't have enough police officers on the street, we don't have enough in the investigations division who are going to investigate cases to ensure a successful prosecution," said Lt. Rick Snyder, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police union.
Meanwhile, critical crime stats are up in Indianapolis, with violent crime jumping by 8 percent and property crime up by 5 percent compared to the same period in 2011.
Neighborhood leaders blame the increases on a lack of manpower.
"We've had crime out the wazoo. It's misdemeanor stuff, but that's frustrating for our neighborhoods," said Rachel Cooper with the Southeast Community Organization. "If we don't have killings, they don't consider that a crime, I guess. But we consider everything a crime."
To compensate for dwindling police numbers, the Department of Public Safety has converted smaller policing districts into larger zones.
It puts more officers into higher crime areas, but it leaves some neighborhoods without a noticeable police presence.
"We feel neglected over here because we don't have any officers. We're down 17 officers on the southeast side," Cooper said.
"Many of (those neighborhoods), the only way they are going to see a police officer is when they call and need one in an emergency, and then at that time, they're coming from a greater distance," Snyder said. "There's no good uniform coverage across the city."
As part of his proposed budget, Mayor Greg Ballard told the City-County Council that police and firefighters will have to give back their promised pay raises in order for the city to balance its budget.
Snyder said the FOP is more concerned about the lack of manpower than the delayed raises.
Police did not respond to RTV6's request for comment Tuesday.
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