INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — State lawmakers are considering a bill that would prevent the slashing of police budgets across Indiana.
The author of the bill said it’s an attempt to ease the concerns of Hoosiers who fear they could find themselves suddenly without a police department.
Not everyone agrees that would happen.
Calls made last summer to defund police departments did not go unnoticed by Indiana lawmakers. State Sen. Mike Bohacek is a Republican from Michiana Shores, a town of 300 along Lake Michigan. He authored Senate Bill 42 to prevent cities, towns and counties from cutting public safety budgets by more than 5% in the middle of the year.
“Has it happened statewide? No,” Bohacek said. “But let’s be really honest. There’s been a quite a bit of talk and when you spray-paint ‘Defund the police’ on the building and sidewalk, it’s going to get some action. We just need to make sure our citizens feel it’s not something that’s going to be brought into the conversation.”
Plus, as long as revenue is flat or improving, the bill also would not allow municipalities to cut more than 5% from their police budget in future years too.
Bohacek said if revenue falls, budgets could match the drop with an additional 5% if fiscal bodies desire.
Bohacek adds that he wants to take the pressure off local officials and that the current version of the legislation is a compromise with Accelerate Indiana Municipalities, or AIM, a nonpartisan lobbying group that represents more than 450 Hoosier communities.
AIM did not reply to a News 8 request for comment.
Bohacek said, “We’re acting deliberatively and that we don’t have elected officials that are feeling bullied into doing these things. It’s just good policy. We’re just providing some guardrails for them.”
He also said, “There’s support for this. I think people just want to feel secure and they want to know that certain things are not going to go away.”
A committee discussed the bill on Thursday. Senate Bill 42 remained in the Senate Committee on Local Government while amendments get ironed out. It’s expected to be taken back up next week.
Not everyone is onboard.
American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana voiced its opposition Thursday in a statement to News 8.
“SB 42 would limit a local government’s ability to decrease local police department budgets. We oppose any attempt to take control and oversight of local police departments away from the very communities’ those police departments are meant to serve. As representatives of their communities, local governments must have the ability to hold police accountable and to prevent police violence by reinvesting into community programs and services – such as mental health services and education – that have been proven to improve public safety.”American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana