HomeTop StoriesThe Indianapolis police union continues to get paid and yet destroys the...

The Indianapolis police union continues to get paid and yet destroys the city

The Indianapolis police union is an evil force. It takes advantage of tragedies to warn of more, escalating tragedies unless the union gets what it wants.

Every year the city gives the union what it wants.

The union’s response? It destroys Indianapolis as an uninhabitable wasteland where criminals rule, aided by sympathetic judges, and where the police are helpless to intervene.

That’s the message from a billboard the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police placed along Interstate 70 last month. The billboard reads: “We can’t help if we’re not there.”

It is a hateful, dishonest attempt by the police union to raise the issue of understaffing during a contract year. Yes, it’s true, Indianapolis has fallen hundreds of officers short of meeting the city’s hiring goal. As the Indianapolis FOP knows well, it is also a national problem with no clear solution.

As CNBC reported, officer firings in 2022 were 47% higher than in 2019. That’s the year before COVID-19, the killing of George Floyd and anti-police protests, some of which turned violent.

Indianapolis pays first-year officers $72,000 a year, which is about the national average police salary.

Indianapolis pays first-year officers $72,000 a year, which is about the national average police salary.

Staffing is not just a problem in big cities. Small cities are disbanding their police departments due to officer shortages, CNBC reported. Police as a profession is in decline. Indianapolis can’t hire people who don’t exist, or retain people who have decided to move on with their lives.

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However, the city is trying. Indianapolis increased the salary of first-year officers to $72,000 last year. To put that in perspective, the national average wage for patrol officers is $72,280, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A rookie officer in Indianapolis already makes more than about half of all police officers in America.

That’s not enough to meet full staffing levels. Indianapolis had 266 officers last month among its budgeted staff of 1,743, IndyStar reported. That’s why the city announced it will redirect money from the American Rescue Plan Act to retention bonuses.

Indianapolis is not only concerned with money and quality of life measures, but also with wish lists that border on frivolity. For years, the Indianapolis FOP called for adding a gunshot detection system in Indianapolis, even though research showed it is ineffective and local police officials said it was not a good use of money.

Guess? Mayor Joe Hogsett announced an investment of more than $1 million in a gunshot detection pilot in 2021, despite already knowing what the program would reveal. Indianapolis decided not to move forward with a gunshot detection program in March (after, oddly enough, seeking a contract from ShotSpotter) because the pilot proved ineffective and unreliable.

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Rather than accept the city’s findings, Rick Snyder, president of the Indianapolis FOP, called the decision to prevent millions more from being wasted “shortsighted and flawed.”

Indianapolis has shown it will count its officers among the best compensated in the country and is willing to burn money to appease the union. It’s never enough. Snyder sits behind his keyboard and does not tout his victories, but shares hyperbolic posts on social media about the latest news shootings And stabbings as further evidence of “#SurgingViolence,” as he puts it.

Only the violence is not increasing. Not anymore.

Murder rates are falling 20% ​​in the US, the fastest pace in decades, The Wall Street Journal reported. Just as murders in Indianapolis rose with the tide during the pandemic, murders here are now falling with the national tide.

It’s disturbing how much we still don’t understand why violent crime soared in 2020 and then started falling for no apparent reason. It’s hard to give Hogsett much credit for fixing anything when Indianapolis is more or less floating along with other cities in the US.

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The national trends raise questions about whether Hogsett’s policies have mattered. Hogsett has introduced a range of new tactics, initiatives and buzzwords over the years. But most of all, he brought truckloads of money to the police station.

Police spending in Indianapolis has increased more than 42% to $324 million since Hogsett took office in 2016. With so little to show for all those millions, perhaps it’s time for the city to slow down and negotiate a little harder on the next FOP contract.

The FOP would frame anything other than another colossal expansion of the police budget in apocalyptic terms, arguing that officers will walk away en masse and the streets will flow with blood. But the union has said these things anyway, even though it has repeatedly gotten everything it wanted – and in some cases even more.

If Snyder wants to shout from the freeways that Indianapolis is a terrible place to live or visit, let him. Just don’t reward him for it.

Contact James Briggs at 317-444-4732 or james.briggs@indystar.com. Follow him further X and discussions on @JamesEBriggs.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indianapolis FOP’s contract gambit hypes tragedy to get more money

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