NewsPublic AffairsPolitics / August 7, 2014

Ballard Discusses Crime Plan With Congressional Leaders

Sam Klemet
Ballard Discusses Crime Plan With Congressional Leaders

There have been more than 80 homicides in Indianapolis this year.

Mayor Greg Ballard met with congressional leaders, downtown, Thursday to discuss his comprehensive safety plan that includes paying for more police and funding preschool for an additional 1,300 low-income children.

Ballard wanted to meet with Democratic Congressman André Carson and Republican Congresswoman Susan Brooks to give them a better understanding of his proposal.

It includes eliminating the Local Homestead Tax Credit and raising the Public Safety Tax to expand PreK access and hiring more officers.

Carson welcomes the conversation, but says some city county council Democrats have reservations.

"President (Maggie) Lewis and Councilor (Joe) Simpson and others have raised some very legitimate concerns about how we pay for this.  They've raised some very legitimate concerns about the homestead credit," said Carson.  "It is my hope that we can sit down and really have a robust debate about this issue because the kids are really what we are doing this for, but we can't play political chess to where we are hurting our constituents."

And Carson, a former police officer, says he is disappointed Ballard chose not to apply for a federal COPS grant that would have paid to put more police on the street.

"Any time that we pass up an opportunity to bolster our law enforcement apparatus, I think it's unacceptable," he said.  "When I have police officers coming to me, making an appeal about us leaving money on the table, it certainly agitates me in a way that will have me get on the phone and say 'hey, Mayor.  What's up? You have partners here.  Utilize us.  Put us to work'."

Ballard says the reason the city didn’t apply is because the grant doesn’t provide long term, sustainable funding.

Brooks understands that decision and says the city needs a more stable solution.

"Having been involved in COPS grant applications in the past, long ago, you have to assure that you won't lay off officers and it's only a set number of years of funding and then you have to demonstrate through your grant application how you're going to pay their salaries going forward, their benefits, and then plan for their retirement," said Brooks.

Brooks backs Ballard’s plan because she says it addresses some root causes of crime.

"Focusing on the dropouts, which I would say we haven't been very focused on the dropouts in this community, and then if we can keep them in school then that can help them in their career path and job path," she said.   "When they drop out, they lose hope and the way they make money and take care of themselves is by slinging dope."

Ballard will present his plan to the full city county council August 18.