Indianapolis City-County Council passes $3M crime prevention package

IN Focus: Indiana Politics

UPDATE:

The City-County Council has voted to pass Proposal 182.

ORIGINAL STORY:

INDIANAPOLIS — Proposal 182 before the City-County Council Monday night would steer $1.5 million to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department for enhanced intelligence and data technology and improved internal police performance tracking.

Another $1.8 million will fund community based anti-violence programs.

Dave Rozzell of Veterans Association of African Descendants says it’s not enough.

“Those numbers don’t balance out for us when you have $1.5 million going to the police department but only $390,000 going toward youth programming,” he said. “It’s the youth who the police spend most of their time chasing around, arresting and bringing to prosecution.”

Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 86 President Rick Snyder says, if anything, more money should be spent on immediate police solutions to the current crime crisis.

“Now they’re gonna vote on this tonight. We’re saying amend it, put out the fire tonight, and then take the next steps for the long-term solutions,” said Snyder. “Even what they’re gonna do tonight doesn’t take place for another four to six months. We’re in the middle of a crisis here. Our city is literally bleeding out.”

Mayor Joe Hogsett announced the spending proposal June 2 with a formal introduction to the full council and referral to a council committee within a week.

Hogsett’s Office of Public Health & Safety estimates it will take at least three months to vet the community grant requests and award the money.

“There have been 189 people shot or stabbed and 33 people killed since the mayor made this proposal 40 days ago,” said Snyder. “We are now at 137 homicides in our city. We are averaging a person shot or stabbed every five hours. We are averaging a person killed every 30 hours in our city right here and now, and what they’re gonna say tonight is, ‘We’ve got a plan, and this plan takes effect until next year.’

“That does nothing for our community.”

Republican City-County Councilor Paul Annee Jr. agrees.

“While we’re proposing long-term solutions that we hope work, the City of Indianapolis has not proposed anything that addresses the murders that are happening today in our city streets,” said Annee. “I don’t believe that these dollars are going to provide an immediate impact for the citizens of Indianapolis.”

Snyder proposes immediate funding for initial gunshot spotter and improved license plate reader technology, as well as the reopening of the Arrestee Processing Center with a judge or magistrate on duty to make immediate bond decisions while halting the granting of automatic $500 bonds with no criminal conviction review for low level felony offenders accused of violent crimes.

“If they are a repeat violent offender that has been charged with new crimes, especially if they are on pre-trial release or post-conviction release, probation or parole, they can be red-flagged and separated to be kept from being turned right back out to return and revictimize somebody,” said Snyder, who noted the mayor’s spending proposal includes funds to track allegations leveled by the public against IMPD officers. “They’re talking about some technology, including a red-flag system for officers, which is fine, but why on earth would we not have a red-flag system for repeat violent offenders, and we do not.”

Even though Black Lives Matter protesters are expected to hold a demonstration before the council’s meeting and reiterate their call to defund IMPD. Rozzell disagrees.

“We’re not saying take away more money, we’re not saying defund the police,” Rozzell said, instead endorsing more funds for community violence reduction programs and police training in de-escalation tactics.

A spokesman for Mayor Hogsett issued the following statement in response to a request for comment on the FOP proposal:

The City will continue to work with partners and stakeholders as we approach the August budget introduction, at which point we also expect to request the first major allocation of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan Act. Public safety will remain a chief spending priority for the administration moving forward.

Chairman of the council’s Public Safety & Criminal Justice Committee, Democrat Councilor Leroy Robinson, issued this statement:

“The Public Safety & Criminal Justice committee is always prepared, as is the full Council, to consider allocating funding to any new program if it’s brought to us by the agencies or elected officials who would be tasked with their implementation, if and when they determine those programs to be worthy investments.”

Councilor Annee, who represents the city’s southside, called for council members to meet more frequently than twice a month to tackle the violent crime dilemma.

“I’ve called for the Public Safety Committee to hold immediate additional meetings three or four times a month at least until we get a handle on the situation, and we are not even close to getting a handle on the situation,” said Annee. “I think that any time issues arise in a councilor’s district, councilors should be asked about those issues.”

Councilor Robinson sent the Republicans a response to a request for more meetings last month that indicated outside criminal justice partners, such as the prosecutor, sheriff and judges, should be brought into the discussion.

One such group would be the Criminal Justice Planning Council, which meets once a month.

Monday afternoon’s meeting set for 4 p.m. was called off that morning.

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