Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Public Safety Becoming An Issue In Mayor's Race

Four years ago, public safety was a major issue in the mayor's race, along with taxes. Then-Mayor Bart Peterson defended his 65%, $90 million a year local income tax increase as necessary in order to put more police officers on the street to combat rising crime. Ballard promised to make public safety job one, including hiring 750 additional police officers. Ballard's new police hires was never a realistic goal, but the 100 new police officers being promised by Peterson with the tax increase seemed quite doable, particularly after one of the major uses of the Peterson tax increase went away when the state assumed more than a half billion dollars of the city's unfunded public safety pension debt. Ballard and Democratic mayoral candidate Melina Kennedy are now trading barbs over how many police officers are now employed by the city. The Star explains:

The decrease in officers -- from 1,641 last year to 1,626 -- put the department below the target number required by a federal grant and is prompting a creative move to bolster the figures.
Next year, the city will count 18 park rangers as part of the police force.
"We should have counted them all along," Department of Public Safety Director Frank Straub said Tuesday. "It was an oversight on our part."
However, the move drew a sharp response from Kennedy, deputy mayor for economic development under Democratic Mayor Bart Peterson, who lost to Ballard.
Ballard, a Republican, campaigned four years ago with the slogan of making public safety "Job One" and has touted his crime-fighting record recently as he gears up for another election.
Kennedy criticized IMPD manpower levels under Ballard's administration. "When the mayor campaigned four years ago, he promised to add 750 police officers," she said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference on the Monon Trail at 16th Street. "But now we learn that there are not enough officers to cover our beats."
Kyle Walker, a spokesman for the Marion County Republican Party, said Ballard would have liked to have hired 750 more police officers but that "the previous administration so mismanaged the city that it left us with a big hole."
"The mayor had to do what he could with the resources available," Walker said. "Considering all the financial restraints, I think the mayor's record on crime is one of the great success stories."
The number of police officers is down because IMPD hasn't had enough recruit classes in recent years to make up for the loss of officers through retirements and resignations.
 As I noted above, one of the biggest financial problems facing the city when Ballard took office was dealing with that half billion dollars in pension debt. As a trade off for raising the state sales tax one percentage point, the state took over that debt, freeing up at least $20 million a year in the budget that would have otherwise been spent on pension liability. What has become clear is that simply keeping the police numbers at the level they were when Ballard took office has rested on unanticipated federal grant dollars that have provided funding for 50 new police officers. Ballard's administration is also now counting park rangers as cops, which has never been done in the past to bolster its numbers. One of the reasons more police haven't been hired is because Ballard agreed to higher pay for police officers at a time when salaries for most government employees were being frozen because of severe budget constraints. The Star provides the staffing level of police officers since he became mayor. Notice the numbers didn't really tick up until the federal dollars started flowing to fund 50 new positions:

YearNumber of officers
20081,582
20091,617
20101,641
20111,626

8 comments:

Concerned Taxpayer said...

Ask the DOK-TOR what qualifies as a "police officer."
Then ask the sheriff why his budget, number of merit deputies, and number of vehicles didn't drop to adjust to the over 300 deputies who were CONsolidated into IMPD.

Indy4u2c said...

It seems this is a major example of mismanagement by Frank Straub. It is not difficult to look at a manning report and see trends in attrition, plan for them, and to have a regular hiring schedule. Instead of hiring police officer as required by the grant, Straub remodeled his suite of offices at great expense, surrounded himself with highly paid cronies never before needed and increased his personal staff exponentially, pulled police to be his "personal assistants". The Straub Staff is a substantially more expensive deviation from what the Public Safety Director's office previously had throughout the history of our city.

Now his priority seems to be creating a kingdom, instead of public safety.

Why doesn't the police department have continuity in the excecutives? Can it be that the executive in charge of making sure grant requirements was removed by Straub's order more than once? It seems like there is regular reporting of Straub ordering a police executive replaced. How can one manage if there is a different executive every 90 days?

Now there is allegations that Straub was reporting Park Rangers as police officers patrolling our city...outrageous! Did he count dog catchers and code enforcement officers who have special police powers as police officers on patrol as well in his report???

-Something is starting to fester. I wonder what would happen if crime stats were audited? Would we find that robberies were recorded as petty thefts? -Were arsons be reported as out of control bonfires? -Were rapes reported as simple assaults? I think there is good cause to wonder what an audit of crime stats would reveal, given facts that have been reported in media.

I think any military officer would recognize the problem with Straub and have replaced his command some time ago if this were the military. I guess the military leadership that Mayor Ballard got elected on set aside in favor of politics & favors.

Cato said...

Why are there so many cops? Rather, with so many cops, how can there be any crime? There are 342 square miles in Marion County. At 1626 cops, that gives 5 cops per square mile. How can 5 cops, 2 in the morning, 2 in the evening, and one for swing shift, not be able to cover one half of a square mile?

Think about it.

Imagine driving downtown, from North St. to South St., from Meridian to East St., eight hours a day, every day.

That's one of the more dense areas of Indy, but, still, by your second day, certainly by the end of the week, you'd know everyone. Everyone would also know you and how to reach you.

Indy has more than enough cops. It doesn't assign them properly.

Politico Monk said...

Straub appears to be correct on this one. A review of the May 18, 2009 CCC meeting minutes documents his position. Unless it has since been altered.

-----------------------------------------

DIVISION 6. PARK RANGERS

Sec. 279-261. Created; duties and responsibilities.

(a) There is hereby created a branch of the Indianapolis metropolitan police department to be known as the park rangers division, which branch shall be under the direction and command of the chief or his or her designee.

Indy4u2c said...

Politico Monk: If there's one thing we've learned it's to verify everything Frank Straub says.

Now, Park Rangers are NOT police officers on patrol, they are park police. Their DUTIES are spelled out in the ordinance you craftily abbreviated:

The park rangers division shall:

(1)
Provide for the safety and security of all park and recreation facilities, services, and customers of the city department of parks and recreation;

(2)
Manage the park ranger program;

(3)
Manage the park ranger weed & seed program;

(4)
Develop and manage educational safety programs for the department of parks and recreation;

(5)
Develop, manage and execute safety policy and procedures at park and recreation facilities of the department of parks and recreation;

(6)
Implement and manage OSHA standards and monitor compliance in the department of parks and recreation;

(7)
Enforce state statutes, city ordinances and rules of the department of parks and recreation on properties owned by the department of parks and recreation;

(8)
Develop and perform environmental and safety programs for school and civic groups;

(9)
Develop and implement community policing strategies for properties owned by the department of parks and recreation; and

(10)
Perform such other duties and responsibilities as may be assigned by the chief.

Politico Monk said...

No disagreement regarding verifying and double checking Straub. He is quite the snake. However, (10) seems to qualify the Rangers for services not explicitly stated. The question is does this meet the funding requirements. I think it probably does. But, I also do not have the funding agreement in front of me.

Didn't Peterson also play with the manpower numbers when he promised 200 additional officers? In fact, I think the Rangers were used at that time as well to ostensibly boost the numbers.

Indy4u2c said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
andersonIU said...

Cato-

You fail to take into account the amount of detectives as well as higher ups that do not patrol. I think IMPD only has around 800-900 officers that are actually uniformed patrol. There are also 3 shifts...not 2 like you said.