Wednesday, November 18, 2009

IMPD denied grant money for new officers: I hate it when I'm right

When Mayor Greg Ballard presented his budget to the City-County Council, one of the points he highlighted was that IMPD will be getting a budget increase, mainly to hire 50 new police officers. He said that federal money will be used to the tune of $11 million over three years. The budget also specified that another portion of it ($1.7 million) would be from a grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute to cover cars, pagers, and various other costs.

Today, Fox 59 broke the story that the grant application was rejected:

Fox59 News has learned IMPD has been rejected for a $1.7 million dollar grant to buy 50 new police cars. And, it appears more advance discussion with Indiana Criminal Justice Institute officials about restrictions for equipment would have let city leaders learn months ago they never had a chance to get grant money for cars.

"The equipment grants we give out are typically for $10,000 or less," said Neil Moore, executive director of the Justice Institute. "If you look at what we funded in the past you will see we don't fund cars for large police agencies."

IMPD was requesting $1.3 million for cars. The total request was $1.7 million dollars. The money is needed to match Federal money the city's taking to cover salaries for 50 new police officers in 2010. By taking the federal money the city has to guarantee it can buy equipment for the new police and cover their salaries after three years.

"We were a little surprised, we were counting on it," said Valerie Washington, CFO for public safety.

Interestingly enough, I questioned these numbers sounded in the first place. The city-county budget, by cutting every department except for IMPD, ended up with a $15 million surplus. Now why Mayor Ballard and the CCC use that to fund IMPD, or the permanently increased County Optional Income Tax to do so, who knows?

In fact, two die-hard Ballard supporters had no problems with IMPD funding when the budget was proposed as seen here.

While I did misspeak and call it stimulus money, the fact is federal money is never a guarantee. Eventually, it'll be gone and the city should be able to stand on it's own two feet. We should at least be able to provide the necessities without federal assistance. Unfortunately, some of my conservative friends don't see it in the same light.

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