IMPD Budget In Crisis

Officers Asked To Pay For Essential Tools For Police Work

Metro police officers have been asked to dig into their own pockets to fund essential tools of the job, everything from hand sanitizers to ammunition. Late Monday afternoon, the department issued an email saying that officers should use "personal" funds if they wished to purchase back-up batteries for Taser guns.

In late March, the department issued another bulletin. It read in part that due to budget constraints, IMPD would no longer provide duty training and practice ammunition for personally owned off-duty or back-up weapons. Department policy requires officers who carry off-duty or back-up weapons to qualify with those weapons the same as they would their department-issued firearms.

"Yes, we have a lot of issues we need to correct," said Rick Hite, interim chief of IMPD. "But we're starting to see some internal equity things that we're finding. So, the community doesn't have to keep reminding us of our shortcomings."

The police department hasn't purchased a new car in the past two years. It's hired only one small recruit class in more than two years. Many officers are wearing body armor that has exceeded the expiration date.

Detectives have been forced to purchase their own notebooks and pens to conduct investigations. And officers have been forced to purchase their own latex gloves, hand sanitizers and even toilet paper for use at roll-call sites.

The department's license plate reader cars, with their micro-camera technology to help fight the stolen vehicle problem, have been grounded for more than two months because IMPD decided not to renew the software license.

"What we have to do is recognize, in diminishing times and resources, is that we have to prioritize," said Hite. "And those things are at the top of our list."

As bad as the budget crisis seems in 2012, the Ballard administration is warning that the budget for 2013 will be even leaner.

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