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Wednesday, June 16, 2021

New fiscal package gives more money to IMPD

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A multimillion-dollar fiscal package will allocate $1.5 million to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) for “enhancing IMPD capabilities.” Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the allocation, as well as plans to address the growing gun violence in the city, during a press conference June 3.

Hogsett hopes the budget will decrease violence throughout the city, although he said it “isn’t a magic wand.”

The $1.5 million going toward IMPD will be broken down into four investments:

  • $550,000 for information-gathering and intelligence work, including working with the community
  • $180,000 to upgrade internal technology infrastructure and hardware
  • $620,000 to increase data capabilities to prevent violent crime
  • $170,000 for an officer intervention system to increase accountability and increase community trust

“The funding announced today will give our officers additional insight as we combat violent crime in Indianapolis neighborhoods,” IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said. “It will also enhance our accountability to the community, which will help improve trust and open lines of communication as we seek to promote safety in collaboration with residents.”

Over 100 people have been killed in Indianapolis this year, surpassing Chicago’s homicide rate. Hogsett said, while an increase in homicides is happening in cities around the country, “we must do better” in our city.

Hogsett cited the exacerbation of mental health issues and domestic violence throughout the pandemic as a reason for the increase in crime. Nearly $1.8 million will be allocated to non-law enforcement public safety investments, including domestic violence reduction efforts, juvenile mental health care and trauma resources.

“These changes will bolster the city’s current efforts around community-based violence prevention,” Lauren Rodriguez, director of the Office of Public Health and Safety, said. “Realizing there is no single solution to this sizeable challenge, this range of programming will directly address many of the elements that contribute to cycles of violence.”

Despite the broad effort, no mention was made of the economic stressors that often lead to crime. According to a study from World Economic Forum, violent crime tends to increase during recessions. At the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, 16.9% of Hoosiers were on unemployment and nearly 16,000 households needed rental assistance. Even before the pandemic began, 22% Indianapolis residents lacked reliable access to food.

Community activist Aahron Whitehead said this fiscal package won’t help the Hoosiers most in need. Further, he said an increase in IMPD spending a year after the height of Black Lives Matter protests is misguided.

“This city isn’t learning from its past mistakes,” Whitehead said. “That money should be funded into community programs and schools. There were a lot of families during the pandemic, and now still, that can’t provide for their kids to have lunch. That money is needed there.”

Whitehead said violence often ensues when people living in poverty don’t see a way out, and the focus should be on lifting people out of poverty. Then, he said, we might find solutions to the city’s homicide problem.

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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