INDIANAPOLIS — Mayor Joe Hogsett said he’s given IMPD more than enough financial resources to staff the force Indianapolis residents deserve to protect their communities.
”We’ve got the money for as many as 1843 fully funded positions. We just can’t find the bodies,” said Hogsett who was interviewed as he attended IMPD North District’s Community Day at Castleton Square. “I want your viewers to know that if they sign up and qualify to be an Indianapolis Metropolitan Police officer, the first year of their employment they may make as much as $56, 57,000 a year and then if they make it to the second year, they’re close to $70,000 a year. That’s not a bad wage.”
As of this morning’s roll call, IMPD’s sworn workforce totaled 1622 officers.
By the end of the month, that total will slump to 1611.
Through overtime and reassignments, IMPD is still able to adequately staff its patrol and investigative divisions, but top brass wonders for how long.
”If we continue to lose the way we are, we’re gonna have to make some tough decisions, and I don’t know what those are yet,” said Assistant Chief Chris Bailey. “We’ve started those discussions on what does it look like for a police agency that has 1500 or less police officers?”
Only about one in ten applicants makes the cut to be invited to join an IMPD recruit class.
”We had 36 so far that got sworn in earlier this year,” said Commander Ida Williams. “We’re looking at again hopefully above fifty in September.”
About ten percent of each training class washes out and never makes it past probationary status to patrol the streets as 36 newly graduated recruits and lateral transfer officers will do next month.
“We’re not lowering our standards because it’s too important that we have quality officers that are working their beats and serving the citizens of Indianapolis,” said Bailey. “We’re at 44 retirements I think so far this year, approximately 15 resignations that are not recruits or probationary officers and we’ve lost approximately 11 recruit officers this year.
“Some of the numbers of the recent people that we have lost have been people who actually left a few months ago. They’re using their vacation time until their retirement date, so, the impact, even though our numbers slipped dramatically over the last two weeks, a lot these folks weren’t working in any capacity for a while anyway.”
More anticipated retirements and resignations by December 31 will further erode IMPD’s ranks.
IMPD is counting on the lateral hiring of veteran officers from other departments, tapping recruits who were unsuccessful in applying to the Indianapolis Fire Department, recruiting military veterans and paying $5,000 retention bonuses without a contract commitment to encourage more applicants.
Bailey said IMPD will seek Statehouse support in the coming legislative session to reform the requirement that officers need serve 32 years to qualify for maximum pension benefits while also lowering the age when an officer would become eligible as recruiters continue to follow more traditional methods of filling academy classes.
”We’re gonna be attending some colleges and universities,” said Williams. “We’ll be at Indiana Black Expo I think next week and we’ll be there all three days.”
Alternative recruitment tactics could include offering support for spouses looking for work, putting officers in touch with mortgage lenders and providing child care and youth services referrals to potential candidates.
I asked Patrolman Charles Parker what he would offer as the best reason a recruit should sign on with IMPD.
”Indianapolis,” he said. “I’m born and raised here and there is nowhere else I’d want to work than Indianapolis.”