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New cars, other upgrades one step closer for IMPD

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department IMPD is one vote closer to having more money to spend.

A committee of the City County Council approved a $4.7 million proposal for the department on Wednesday.

That money could be spent on new cars, improvements at the IMPD Academy and upgrades at the police firing range.

The council’s Chief Financial Officer, Bart Brown, said the spending on cars would “not address all the problems that IMPD has with their fleet.” He said it would “at least put them on solid footing as they discuss how to find permanent funding for vehicle replacement.”

Rick Snyder, President of the local Fraternal Order of Police, told the committee the police fleet is in abysmal shape.

“The time is now,” Snyder said. “We will not be presented with this chance in future years due to the draw down of dollars needed for additional officers in 2016 and beyond.”

Spending on the training academy at 10th Street and Post Road would upgrade a former public school. Supporters of the proposal said the building needs security and technology upgrades to properly train officers, especially with the new recruits coming to the department.

Upgrades at the firing range would address maintenance issues raised by heavy use. The committee learned the site has not received an upgrade in the last 20 years. Brown offered a 2011 estimate that suggested emergency repairs at the facility could cost $1 million.

Republican council member Marilyn Pfisterer did not disagree that the needs were great but she had reservations about how the department would spend the money. IMPD officials could not be specific about the spending and Pfisterer asked for a delay in the vote. The committee rejected her motion.

The proposal passed with only one opposing vote from Republican council member Aaron Freeman.

Freeman said he knows the department has needs but he questioned the timing. He would prefer that this be part of the budget process in the fall.

“Look, we’ve long…this is government, right? We’ve long spent what the Public Safety Tax was and now we’ve got to work on how we fund this going forward every year and I think we better tap our brakes a little bit,” said Freeman.

After the vote, council president Maggie Lewis released a statement praising her colleagues. She said the proposal, if approved by the full council, “will provide funding for 100 police vehicles and emergency repairs and upgrades at the IMPD firing range. Funds will also be utilized to complete repairs at the IMPD Academy to include enhanced security and IT upgrades.  I look forward to hearing the full proposal during the upcoming Council meeting and strengthening our commitment to public safety in our community.”

The full council’s next meeting is March 30.