Security guards and off-duty cops patrolling subdivisions, apartment complexes and businesses is nothing new but police professionals said it's rare for a large swath of inner-city residents to hire their own "subscription" police.
"I don't think I've seen anything quite like that on such a broad scale,'' said W. Craig Hartley, Jr., an 18-year police officer who is deputy director of the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies in Virginia. "In most cases you are talking about an individual cop working a specific property."
With IMPD down 300 officers, overtime limited and the department shifting its officers to the most violent crime while abandoning traditional "beat" patrols, Safe Neighborhoods said it is filling a void.
"We are not trying to replace IMPD, which is doing a great job with the resources it has," said IMPD Sgt. Dan Green, a co-owner. "We are giving the residents the individualized attention they want, most of which is property protection."Guess who opposes private citizens from spending money out of their own pockets to hire off-duty police officers to provide the protection IMPD is not providing them? Why yes, that would be Councilor Joe Simpson, who is supporting a major expansion of a downtown TIF district that will divert even more of your property tax revenues so there will be even fewer tax dollars available to fund the police department.
"They shouldn't be using our equipment when they have their own business," said Councilman Joe Simpson, a Democratic member of the public safety and criminal justice committee whose district includes King Park. "You should get your own uniforms, your own cars and your own badges. This is a demonstration of how wild it's gotten out there."
Simpson said he didn't even know there were private patrols in his district, though Safe Neighborhoods has been operating for two years and has a website in which its link to IMPD is a major selling point.
"Our officers are an elite group of highly trained professionals who are committed to making Indianapolis an exemplary model for public safety," safeindy.com boasts. "All officers are full time employees of IMPD."Interestingly, Councilor Simpson is facing criminal charges after he interfered with an IMPD investigation of a home invasion in his neighborhood. Talk about a corrupt councilor who is totally disconnected from the needs of his district. He didn't even know his neighbors had hired private patrols until he was contacted by the Star. It makes you wonder whose side Simpson is on. His Fall Creek neighborhood has been plagued by break-ins recently. IMPD learned after making a recent arrest that one of Simpson's neighbors was harboring an ex-con who was breaking into all of the homes in the neighborhood and stealing whatever he could get. The Safe Neighborhoods security firm's off-duty police officers have made 56 arrests since it began patrolling neighborhoods on the city's near northside within Councilor Simpson's neighborhood. The co-op that is paying Safe Neighborhoods has about 65 dues-paying members who pay on average about $250 a year for the services.
Suddenly, councilors who opposed efforts in the past to require private security firms to pay compensation to IMPD when it hires off-duty police officers who use their uniforms, police cruisers and equipment to perform off-duty security work as most other cities in the country do are now rethinking their past position. "I have a concern about wear and tear on city-owned assets," Councilor Ben Hunter told the Star. Really? He blasted me when I criticized the city for foregoing potentially several million dollars in fees that it could be earning from reimbursements from private security firms for the use of city resources. At that time, Councilor Hunter co-owned a private security firm with another police officer that was doing precising the same thing, a business of which he has since divested his ownership interest. Instead, he came up with a lame idea to have police officers pay for part of the gas their take-home cars consume when prices reached a certain level. His plan was never implemented despite record high gas prices because his ordinance was so stupidly worded nobody could figure out how to implement it. Councilor Hunter told the Star that "it's concerning that citizens have gotten to the point where they feel they have to form co-ops to hire officers." Just watch. He'll be one of the councilors owned by the downtown mafia who will vote at tonight's council meeting to divert more of your property tax revenues to the mayor's slush fund.
The Star article focuses on inner city neighborhoods, but some of the city's most upscale neighborhoods on the northside have been plagued by break-ins as well. A prominent local jeweler, Gary Thrapp, who lives in the 3500 block of Bay Road, was shot twice and remains in serious condition during a break-in at his home early Sunday morning. “I jumped up from a sound asleep and was face-to-face with one of them,” Thrapp told Fox 59 News during an exclusive phone interview from his hospital bed . . . I wrestled with one guy who seemed to be shouting out the orders and he shot his pistol and there were three rounds and one of them was point blank into my mid-section . . . “I’m on the floor and they’re detaining my wife and they’re looking for the jewelry and cash and want to get out and make it quick.” Interestingly, at the time Fox 59 News interviewed Thrapp over the phone he had not yet been interviewed by IMPD detectives. The two suspects responsible for the shooting and home invasion remain at large.
Mayor Ballard, naturally, was not available for comment. He's busy planning his next overseas junket to Australia, his third such trip this year. He's promised the downtown mafia he will sign the ordinance approving the expansion of the downtown TIF before he leaves town, though, so there's more money to cover all the bribes, payoffs and kickbacks needed to keep their racket going strong while the rest of the city burns.