INDIANAPOLIS – In Marion County, 911 wait times continue to increase as staffing at the sheriff’s office continues to decrease. A new report has sheds some light on why it’s all been happening.
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office has been saying that their funding has been lacking, but the assessment was prompted after a request from Mayor Joe Hogsett.
The assessment found some major issues with the agency’s funding, saying, "Staffing and funding levels at MCSO have not increased in recent years to match growth in demand."
“I think it’s a confirmation of some of the assertions we’ve been making over the years about our budget – that we might be underfunded for the demands we have on the department,” Col. Louis Dezeland said.
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The assessment focused on three issues:
- The arrestee transportation, processing and security for inmates during medical treatment
- A financial analysis of the agency, looking at things like salary and use of money
- An evaluation of the agency's vehicle fleet.
The arrestee transportation issue came to a head this year, when the sheriff’s office reduced the number of prisoner transport wagons across the county. The reduction forced the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to pay more than $250,000 in overtime to transport prisoners themselves.
The salaries for dispatchers is one of the main reasons they are leaving Marion County for greener pastures. Which in this case, seems to be any other nearby county. 911 dispatchers can make anywhere from $5,000-$15,000 more annually in the counties around Marion.
Because people are leaving the sheriff’s office at an alarming rate, that means overtime pay is skyrocketing.
Between 2015 and 2017 the overtime usage rose 128 percent. In 2017, overtime alone cost the department more than $5 million.
“It's not bad to have overtime, to have certain amount of overtime is good, because so the employees can make some more money,” Dezeland said. “You can offset some staffing needs, but not to the extent that we are now with staffing."
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