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Committee to consider proposal for IMPD equipment upgrades

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Wednesday evening leaders in Indianapolis will consider spending nearly $5 million on upgrades for IMPD. It’s money the Fraternal Order of Police says is desperately needed, as the city prepares to bring on 155 new officers.

Proposal 47 calls for the extra money from the increased public safety tax to go toward better equipping officers. If councilors approve the proposal, up to $4.7 million would go toward 75 new police cars, upgrades to the IMPD firing range and improvements to the police academy. 

24-Hour News 8 talked with FOP President Rick Snyder who says this is something the city needs to do to keep officers safe. Snyder’s biggest concern is IMPD’s outdated police cars. He said some cars have more than 150,000 miles on them and are in bad condition. He doesn’t think the 75 new cars would be enough, but it’s a step in the right direction. Snyder wants to start a regular replacement cycle to make sure no officer is driving an out-of-date squad car.

Snyder also said the IMPD firing range is in need of attention. He told 24-Hour News 8 the range hasn’t seen any improvements in the past 20 years.The FOP president argues that doesn’t allow officers to get the training they need, especially when it comes to deescalating situations and avoiding the use of lethal force.

Republican Councilor Jeff Miller says if we want to hire more officers, we need to make sure we’re giving them all the proper tools and training they need.

“155 (new officers) is going to push us to the brink. In fact, if we don’t address some of these issues we probably won’t have the space for them to train and get ready. But that money (the public safety tax increase) will continue to be used each year to hire more officers,” said Miller.

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard has said he’d like to put the money back to use in the fiscal stability fund. Last year, the city borrowed money from that fund to hire more officers. Snyder and Councilor Miller both said voters designated that money for public safety, so that’s where it should go.

Miller said the council committee will consider several options Wednesday.

“Do we spend some capital investment? Do we pay back a debt? Do we do both? With some of that extra money we could pay some of that debt, but I think it’s critically important we address the capital needs that lie before us. We’ve got to make sure IMPD is ready to go,” said Miller.

If the proposal passes through committee, it will go before full council later this month.

Al Larsen, with the  Department of Public Safety, said DPS has not been consulted by council members about the funding. DPS will have a representative at the meeting to answer any questions.