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When Good Intentions Equal Bad Public Policy

I am sure somewhere deep down inside, my Democratic friends on the Indianapolis City-County Council have the same hopes for the city as I do, they want one that is safe, vibrant and has a high quality of life.  And we all realize those goals are complicated when money is tight.  However, one of the first rules of governing is to not make bad matters worse, and by passing an ordinance to take $6 million in Rebuild Indy funds to start a new police recruit class, the Council went down that road.

I recently explained in my weekly NUVO column why all this was a bad idea, so I won’t go into a whole lot of detail here.  However, at Monday night’s Council meeting Democrats made a new argument that is just as, or should I say, even more flawed than their original proposition.

They maintained that if the city began a new police recruit class, using Rebuild Indy dollars, the money to pay for continuing classes would be covered by the fact that you will have officers retiring and since they are more experienced officers, the city would be paying less over time, since the new officers won’t be paid as much.  They say the city could fill as many as 60 officers with the new class.

Here’s the problem with that logic, in a Twitter exchange at-large Councilor Zach Adamson told me IMPD loses 42 officers a year due to retirement and this would replace those officers.  He says the city could replace those 42 with 34 cops and the program is 100% sustainable.  But won’t that mean fewer cops on the street?  And haven’t Democrats been saying we need more police?  So doesn’t all this plan really do is put fewer police on the street and translate into less dollars for infrastructure?

Did I miss something?

There are number of ways we can put more cops on the street and fight crime without touching infrastructure funding.

Public Safety Director Troy Riggs’ is planning to realign IMPD and move up to 100 officers from behind the desk and put them back on the street.   And if that’s not enough, the Council could always take some of the millions the Sheriff has overspent in the last 2-3 years buying cars and increasing his staff and use those dollars to put police back on the street without having to touch road money.  They could also have certain Black members of the caucus stop fighting the expansion of educational opportunities for their constituents; since education is one of the best ways to fight crime.

There are a number of things the Council can do without having to tap into one time funds to create long-term operating expenses.  This way their good intentions can have good results as opposed to more deficit spending and bad fiscal management.

  • Aaron D.

    I suspect this entire maneuver by the Democrat Council is little more
    than a public relations ploy to make the republican mayor look bad. The
    intent is to force him to veto a bill that is bad policy and then run
    to the media and say that he prevented more police on the streets. This
    entire thing is a PR setup from work go. I believe the next mayoral
    campaign has begun.

  • CircleCityScribe

    I believe that Mayor Ballard turned his back on Job #1….he said Public Safety is Job #1 in the campaign, but we found out a few things:

    1) Frank Straub (a name that will exist in infamy in Indianapolis) -Enough said!

    2) Layoffs of Police through attrition. Don’t we now have the smallest police force in modern history??? -Crime is more violent, and we have less police to deal with it. -Less detectives to investigate murder. It looks like the attitude went from “Do what it takes to solve the crime…” to The Ballard Plan: “We can’t solve ’em all, get over it & move on to the next case.”

    3) Get 100 police from behind a desk??? -Didn’t he already lay more than 100 off from attrition? They don’t have 100, and I bet that they won’t find more than 10 to reassign to token positions on the street.

    4) Mayor Ballard wants to waste our TAX money on electric cars for the city fleet. Well, they cost more than regular cars and have a much shorter life, because the expensive batteries fail after 5 – 7 years. So I call that: RECKLESS SPENDING of TAX money! -Anyone know how much the electric car makers contribute to our Mayor?

    5) A cricket field? -Really? What a total play on a political show! We do not want a cricket field, (but the builder of that field wants our tax money!!!) -Anyone know how much the cricket field builder contributes to our Mayor?

    6) Today is supposed to be the hottest day this season, yet our Mayor will close all swimming pools at either 5:00 or 6:00, so families cannot enjoy cooling off together after work.

    7) A city towing contract to a California company! -Really???? We know that our Mayor’s Chief of Staff used to work for the law firm that lobbied for the contract. -Anyone know how much that California company contributes to our Mayor? In a car accident? -Car towed for parking violation? -Pick it up in San Diego???
    **

    Abdul, is our Mayor a RINO?

  • gmoore

    How about we think out of the box for one. The cheapest way to increase the size of IMPD is to greatly increase the size of the reserve division. There are several hundred that have applied and are waiting for this chance.
    Think how they could be used covering hours and shifts at times when most needed. The reduction in overtime costs for many events that occur yearly. Reserve officers work at least 24 hours a month with some doing as much as 100. What a way to save taxpayers money.
    Zero pay with no retirement payout. This I greatly disagree with but it is currently the way its handled.
    The are now around 88 reserves, we are allowed around 400. This would cover almost all shortages that IMPD now has. The cost would be simply training (which we already have a training branch) and equipment.

  • Dave

    Behind the desk types might lack critical foot speed to move their behinds; if pursuit is still part of police work, allowing that it could be out of fashion, like suspect profiling. Then again, true to their taxing & expanding form, the state’s “reliable conservatives” may prefer to drone on with, desk jockeyed DC styled “solutions.”

    Police friends have concerns about the years idled academy that no longer replenishes the local force, of which nearly one third are retirement eligible. That would seem to be a problem.

  • Anonymouse

    Replacing 42 retiring officers with 34 new cops is a big improvement with how many replacements the administration has offered in recent years (hint- ZERO). As for the 100 “new” street officers, I am sure you are well informed enough to realize the smoke and mirrors. Very few of these officers were assigned to a desk job. They were already out in patrol cars daily conducting traffic stops and working projects in high crime areas. They seem to simply be shifted to a different dispatch queue for political purposes. The shift will have little impact on violent crime, as most of these officer were already patrolling neighborhoods.