Metro Police Staffing Levels Drop To Lowest In Years
Declining Manpower Threatens Safety, Federal Funding Programs
Last Updated: 268 days ago
There are renewed concerns about the dwindling number of Metro police officers and the impact it will have on safety and the department's ability to attract federal funding.
The number of officers has fallen to 1,599, the lowest number recorded since the 2007 merger between Indianapolis Police and the Marion County Sheriff's Department,
In 2011, the police department promised to maintain a minimum staffing level of 1,643 officers as a condition for receiving a $3 million COPS grant to hire 50 additional officers. When staffing levels dropped to 1,626 officers, the city negotiated an extension with the Department of Justice to avoid having to repay the funding.
"The problem becomes, how long will that agreement be in effect if the numbers continue to fall without our looking to hire some sort of recruit class?" said Mary Moriarity-Adams, who chairs the City-County Council's Public Safety Committee. "Being below a key number also could cause us not to be allowed to have future funding because we've not been able to maintain what we had promised to begin with."
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department has hired only 17 police officers over the past three years. During that same period, the department has lost more than 100 officers to retirements, terminations, deaths and disabilities.
"We have fewer officers on the street at a time when crime is going up and attacks on officers are increasing," said Lt. Rick Snyder, vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police. "It's only by keeping our officers safe that we're able to keep our citizens safe."
2013 looks even bleaker when it comes to hiring additional officers. The city faces a $41 million revenue shortfall. Eighty-five percent of the city budget funds some element of public safety and criminal justice.
To compensate for the shortage, the police department did away with smaller policing beats in favor of larger zones. The department concentrated larger numbers of officers in these high-crime zones.
"I don't know how effective the zone policing is going to be," said Moriarity-Adams. "But the fact of the matter is, other areas of the city aren't adequately covered, where people are paying taxes to see officers on their streets and in their neighborhoods."