Police officials estimate they could raise as much as $1 million a year by charging for the police protection they have long provided free for conventions and big events, including the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration, the 500 Festival and the Indianapolis 500.
The idea, though controversial in a city whose name is synonymous with its world-famous race, isn’t far-fetched. As public safety budgets across the country tighten, cities such as Louisville, Ky., and Salt Lake City have re-examined whether they should offer free event policing. Other big convention cities, including Las Vegas, have charged vendors for years.
But it’s not a plan without consequences. Some of the city’s biggest draws, such as the Summer Celebration and the 500-Mile Race, which attract tens and even hundreds of thousands of people every year, also incur the highest security costs — more than $200,000 for Expo and nearly $140,000 for the race . . .
“We are in an extremely competitive marketplace,” said Republican City-County Council member Jack Sandlin, a former Indianapolis police officer. “Thirty years ago, we made a decision to attract sports and other events. The extra cost was part of that. Could charging for police services cause us to lose events? “That’s something to think about.” . . .
Today, Louisville officials don’t charge for everything. But Churchill Downs, the site of the city’s flagship event, the Kentucky Derby, is required to reimburse about $225,000 in security costs, said Dwight Mitchell, spokesman for the department . . .
Mayor Greg Ballard’s spokesman, Marc Lotter, said charging organizations for police protection would discourage conventions from coming to Indianapolis and would “hurt the city’s economy.”
“It doesn’t make economic sense, and it would cost the city in the long run,” he said. “It would make it more expensive for these events to come here.”
Council President Maggie Lewis, a Democrat, said charging a fee is at least worth discussing, but she said she would want organizers to consent to it.
“I would support it if the Black Expos, for instance, came along voluntarily,” she said. “But if they said it was too much of a burden, I would be concerned about imposing something on them.” To do so, she said, could create conflict. “That wouldn’t be good; IBE is part of our city’s fabric,” Lewis said . . .IMPD is actually low-balling the actual cost of these events, particularly the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Hell, the owners of the Kentucky Motor Speedway pay Kentucky's State Police $150,000 a year for a track that draws far fewer spectators than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but who is going to call them out on it. If someone can afford to pass out expensive pacer cars to members of the 500 festival committee to drive around town and flaunt the whole month of May, then surely they can cough up the extra dollars to pay for the extra policing costs their events cost the taxpayers.
The Gannett-owned Indianapolis Star is in bed with all of these corrupt cronies who are constantly picking our pockets and covers up all of their criminal activity comprised of various forms of bribes, kickbacks and payoffs. The priorities of these people are so screwed up it is beyond belief. The City-County Council President will only go along with it if the sponsors of the event consent to paying the fees! What about the people she was elected to serve? Can you believe it? Do we not have a voice? We, the people, do not consent to allowing these freeloaders to use our police services for their own self-serving benefit at the cost of the rest of the community, Ms. Lewis. That's all that you should care about, but we know why you don't think that way because we know where the money in your bank account is derived. This is what happens when virtually everyone making the decisions is on the downtown mafia's payroll in one form or another. Until there is a complete revolution in the way this city is run, you will continue to be taxed into servitude for the sole benefit of a small group of elitist downtown mafia members who have bought off the Mayor and most of your city council members.