September 14, 2023

Proposed IMPD budget focuses on staffing, technology. But community says more money needed for mental health

More than $323 million is set to go to IMPD in Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposed 2024 budget – about 30 percent of the city appropriations.  - Katrina Pross/WFYI News

More than $323 million is set to go to IMPD in Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposed 2024 budget – about 30 percent of the city appropriations.

Katrina Pross/WFYI News

Community members criticized the proposed budget for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department at a public hearing Wednesday, calling it “excessive.”

More than $323 million is set to go to IMPD in Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett’s proposed 2024 budget – about 30 percent of the city appropriations.

Members of law enforcement and the community spoke at a City-County Council Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee hearing.

A look at IMPD’s proposed budget

The proposed budget for IMPD will go toward fully staffing the department, technology and recruiting people of color.

The budget would allow for the department to hire more officers, bringing the total to 1,743. First and second year officers will receive salary increases, with a 3 percent cost of living adjustment for other officers.

IMPD has struggled with recruitment for years. The department saw staffing hit a low of 1,529 officers this year – the lowest amount since 2015.

“It's not a secret that we are and have been struggling to hire and train our officers,” said IMPD Assistant Chief Chris Bailey.

Technology that would be funded through the proposed budget includes measures such as dash cameras for police vehicles, public safety cameras and license plate readers.

IMPD leaders also said the department needs to be more diverse. According to IMPD’s budget presentation, only 15 percent of the department is Black, while nearly 30 percent of Indianapolis is made up of Black people.  And while women make up about half of the Indianapolis population, they represent 13 percent of IMPD officers. 

Part of IMPD’s budget would specifically target recruiting people of color to join the force.

Community criticism

Several community members gave comments on the proposed budget. All who spoke were against it.

During Wednesday’s presentation, a handful of people held up signs criticizing IMPD, displaying demands such as “No more tax dollars for killer cops,” and “IMPD: The real threat to public safety!”

Kristin Berry is a member of the Justice for Herman Whitfield III Campaign. Whitfield died after six IMPD officers responded to his mental health crisis, tased him and placed him in the prone position. Whitifield’s parents, Gladys Whitfield and Herman Whitfield, Jr., were also in attendance.

Berry called the budget “excessive,” and said more funding needs to go toward mental health resources.

“This proposed budget fails to address public safety for our most vulnerable citizens,” Berry said.

About $2 million is allocated in IMPD’s proposed budget for Homeless Outreach Units and the Mobile Crisis Assistance Team, or MCAT. MCAT responds to mental health calls, and the teams include a police officer and a clinician.

IMPD chief addresses recent officer involved shootings, mental health

IMPD Chief Randal Taylor addressed recent officer-involved shootings during his budget presentation to council members. Two Black men were shot and killed last month, and a bicyclist was killed after being struck by an IMPD vehicle.

"Any life lost in our city should cause us to pause and reflect,” Taylor said. “Many in the community have questions about our recent officer-involved shootings. I sympathize with the families who have experienced these unfortunate outcomes."

Taylor also pointed to mental health, and how officers should not be the first response to a mental health call.

IMPD members expressed their support for the new Clinician-led Community Response Team, a pilot program that allows mental health professionals to respond to calls without police. $1 million of the city’s Office of Public Health and Safety proposed budget would go to the team.

The full City-County Council will vote on the budget in October.

Contact WFYI criminal justice reporter Katrina Pross at kpross@wfyi.orgPross is a Corps Member of Report for America, an initiative of The GroundTruth Project.

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