INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has set aside enough money to pay for 1,843 metro police officers.

As of today, there are 1,554 men and women wearing the IMPD badge.

Just a few years ago, IMPD would regularly graduate recruit classes of 60 or more officers twice a year from its training academy.

Right now, there are just 26 recruits in training.

Faced with those daunting numbers and the potential of dozens if not a hundred retirements and separations of veteran officers by the end of this year, IMPD is stepping up its application and recruitment process to reduce the time it takes to become a police officer and keep qualified applicants from losing interest or signing up with another department.

”The IMPD recruitment process will now reopen every four months in order to expedite the application process and increase the number of recruits that come here to the academy,” said Deputy Chief Catherine Cummings. “This modification means that three classes will start here at our academy in 2023.”

The current 26th class will overlap for a few weeks with the 27th class late this summer and the 27th class will overlap with the 28th class over the New Year.

”With the overlap, it allows us to get recruits in quicker,” said Chief Randal Taylor. “What we’ve noticed in the past is sometimes we would lose officers going to different departments because our process was a little bit longer.”

IMPD is not only remodeling classroom space inside the academy to address the overlap in classes but also constructing a scenario village to provide officers with more pertinent real situation training.

“Why can’t we offer a written test, an oral interview board and a physical fitness test in one day instead of waiting for a large class to be graduated in the spring and a large class to be graduated in the winter?” asked Deputy Chief Joshua Barker who finds the expectations of applicants have changed over time to include, ”a very inquisitive attitude, but I think as law enforcement evolves over time, that’s exactly what you want. We are bringing people in the organization who have been raised in the social media culture. They have been raised in the digital phase. There’s more of a focus on trying to understand the why behind what it is we’re doing.”

Chief Taylor insists that IMPD will not lower its standards in order to fill academy seats.

”We’re holding the line on things like felonies, if you’ve got a felony, you’re not gonna work out,” he said. “There are a few misdemeanors that could be considered, maybe minor driving offenses or something along that line. But in reality there are standards, high school diploma or GED, they’re a U.S. citizen, valid driver’s license, 21 years of age, military is always encouraged as long as it was an honorable discharge from the military.”

IMPD is optimistic that it can welcome 40 recruits for each of this year’s two remaining classes, though it applications total in the hundreds and only a fraction of those make the cut to receive a job offer.

”That’s about one in five and that’s about twenty percent and twenty percent will be admitted and ultimately given an offer of employment. I suspect it has to do with background issues,” said Cummings. “It could be a number of things. It could be arrests. As the chief said, we have not lowered that standard and so sometimes we find that.”

IMPD is set to launch a television advertising campaign in Indianapolis and across the region to encourage potential officers to apply.