“Mayor Peterson should drop his plans to seek a Super Bowl until he has solved the dangerous shortage of police officers in the new Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD).”
Ballard also renewed his call for Mayor Peterson, Sheriff Anderson and Monroe Gray, President of the City-Council, to reopen and adequately staff the police substation at 42nd and College Avenue, citing recent violent assaults against the elderly in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. Ballard added "This is just one tragic example of Mayor Peterson's shortcomings in fighting crime."
Local news media cited a department report that says the new IMPD is short 120 sworn officers and 57 civilian employees. Ballard said, “Eight years ago Bart Peterson ran on a pledge promising 200 new police officers. Here we are eight years later and we are 177 officers short—120 of these are sworn officers who should be on patrol in our neighborhoods.”
“Mayor Peterson knows this is a problem. That’s why he is already running campaign ads making even more political promises about his plans to address crime. But the citizens of Indianapolis aren’t going to be fooled by slick campaign ads. We don’t have enough police on the streets—that’s a fact. And so far, we don’t see any aggressive action by the mayor to solve this problem,” stated Ballard.
“Everyone likes the Super Bowl, but it makes no sense for the mayor to spend money, time, energy or political resources on a do-over on a failed Super Bowl bid when we have a serious police shortage and rising violent crime,” said Ballard. If anyone is still wondering why criminals are growing more brazen, I think today's Indianapolis Star article about police shortages should answer his or her questions.
Ballard makes a good point. It's sort of like making plans for the purchase of a new car when you're three months behind on the mortgage payment. Ballard also earns some media attention today from Star columnist Matt Tully in his pursuit of making crime the number one issue in this year's mayoral election. Tully introduces Star readers to the unknown Ballard:
Let's pause here to introduce Ballard. He's a Cathedral High graduate who returned to the city a few years ago after 23 years in the Marines. These days, he teaches a course at Indiana Business College and conducts leadership seminars. He looks and sounds more like a CEO than a Marine.
"I have the ability to look at things and say, 'Why aren't we doing it this way?' " the father of two said. "I've done that all the way through my career."
Ballard talked about his campaign as we walked through the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum on Carb Day. He talked a bit about the cars but mostly about crime and Peterson's record.
"I find it a bit insulting that his first commercial is about crime," he said.
"This man has had eight years, and this city is heading in the wrong direction."
What would a Mayor Ballard do? First, he said, he would ask the legislature to put the mayor back in charge of police. That, he said, is leadership.
Ballard doesn't want to sound like a one-issue candidate, but, he said, "crime is the issue of the day," and it is tied to other core issues such as schools and economic development. Before Election Day, he hopes to introduce himself with TV ads. For now, I asked him what he wanted voters to know.
"I want people to know there is someone capable out here," he said. "Someone who can make a difference, someone who can do it and do it better."
Ballard has five months to sell himself. Whatever the outcome, five months of talking about issues will be good for all of us.
Tully is skeptical Ballard will be able to raise the money needed to become a viable candidate. "At this point, the 52-year-old Pike Township resident doesn't have enough campaign cash to rebut commercials being aired by his opponent, Mayor Bart Peterson, a Democrat," Tully opines. "The reality is Ballard might not ever have enough money to do so." But he qualifies that with the following: "The beauty of U.S. politics is politicians have to face voters every so often. Many deserve re-election -- and that might be the case with Peterson -- but if the press and public do their jobs, elections can put a spotlight on politicians' records and important issues, such as crime." I'm pleased to see Tully concede the press has a responsibility to put a spotlight on Peterson's record. Let's see how well they do their job in the coming months.