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IMPD’s proposed budget prompts long meeting and criticism

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Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officials presented the agency’s proposed 2021 budget to the city-county council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee on Sept. 9, which turned into the latest iteration of the debate about appropriate police funding.

IMPD’s proposed 2021 budget clocks in at about $261 million, a $7.3 million increase from the 2020 budget.

As expected, plenty of people took advantage of the public comment period in person and through the online portal (attendance is still limited at city-county council meetings) to voice their opposition to the department’s proposed budget, which would account for almost 30% of the city budget.

“The police are not the right actors to address systemic issues that Indy needs to work on,” one person wrote. “Work on food deserts, our education system and job opportunities. Address the core issue, not the symptoms.”

One man who said he was at the protest May 29 said an 18-year-old in Iraq has better “trigger discipline” than he saw that night from IMPD, bringing up that the department used tear gas — a chemical banned in war — against civilians.

“These tactics outlawed in war are hardly ethical for policing a community,” he said.

Another person wrote in: “The increase in funding for IMPD in the face of constant failures on the part of the department to effectively handle the issues facing our city is like trying to put out a fire by throwing gasoline on it.”

The majority of costs and increases ($214.6 million) are for salaries and benefits. The budget also includes a $1.1 million increase for capital expenditures such as bomb suits, motorcycles and drones, as well as $400,000 for body-worn cameras.

Public comments lasted two hours before committee chairperson Leroy Robinson said any unread written comments could be entered into the meeting minutes for the record.

Missing from councilors throughout the meeting was any indication that there’s support for “defunding the police.” There was still some scrutiny, though.

“We want the law enforcement to protect our communities,” councilor Keith Graves said, “but I also think that we want to know that, particularly in the Black community, that interactions are not death sentences.”

City agencies and departments are presenting their budgets to the appropriate council committees. The city-county council will adopt the final budget in October.

Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor speaks at the city-county council’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee budget hearing Sept. 9. (Screenshot)

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