The budget for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was discussed by a City-County Council committee Wednesday night.
More than $260 million is proposed for IMPD operations in 2021 making up a third of city spending. The proposed budget increases funding for the department by $7 million.
The proposed increase coincides with local and national calls to defund police departments in response to multiple deaths of Blacks at the hands of police officers across the country. IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said he doesn’t think defunding the police is the answer.
"That’s going to impact us some kind of way," Taylor said. "The services we provide are going to take a hit."
Members of the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee questioned IMPD about services including a return to beat policing, mental health response and staffing. The department has a goal of 1,744 officers and says payroll makes up 82 percent of its budget.
Democratic councilman Keith Graves said some in his district would like to see a reimagining of IMPD.
"What the people I serve want is a better interaction when law enforcement is used," Graves said.
The budget includes more than $1 million for new body cameras for all patrol officers.
IMPD Deputy Chief Valerie Cunningham says the department is focused on equity in hiring.
"To be able to recruit and change this department from the inside out by the individuals that are courageous enough to raise their hand and say they want to join this profession," Cunningham said.
Alexis Tardy gave public testimony and said more police is not what many community members want.
"This is not build trust, this is not encourage participation in the community, and we are asking to defund the police in order to invest in community and social services that actually serve them," Tardy told the commitee.
Other community members questioned police tactics during protests and called to defund police based on a history of racism and ineffectiveness.
Thirty pages of public comments against increased IMPD funding were read at the meeting.