Believe it or not, every time I hear Melina Kennedy offer up a plan I usually hope it is something that will be rooted in logic and reason. I mean after all, even a broken clock is right twice a day. So when I showed up to her news conference Thursday morning (no I did not get an invite) I was hoping this time would be different. No such luck.
The Democratic candidate for Mayor of Indianapolis offered up a “plan” for public safety which included the following points.
- 100 new police officers on the street. (50 would be reassigned from current duty, another 50 would be new hires).
- Stepped up community policing.
- Going after illegal guns.
- More crime prevention grant money.
- The creation of a crime statistics commission.
- A Drug Czar and Initiatives Director.
- A centralized grants office.
- New technology.
I really want to delve into her ideas but I couldn’t get past the first one. When asked how she would hire the new officers she said she would look in the budget, apply for grants and dip into the $150 million endowment that she would use by taking away money for roads and infrastructure.
If you go to IMPD’s website you’ll find the starting salary for an officer is right under $40,000 annually. That number goes up to $58,000 by year 3. But let’s stick with the lower number. If she wants to hire 50 new officers at $40,000 a year, she has to find $2,000,000 to start. And remember it’s not just an officer, it’s benefits, insurance (don’t forget the family), the college incentive pay, the vehicle, the sick leave, the vacation leave, the pension plan and the deferred comp. So that $40,000 is more like $70,000 easily which means that $2 million is more like $3.5 million. And that’s just for one year. The average officer sticks around for 20 years. So her $3.5 million expense is now $70 million or half the endowment. And she still wants to pay for early childhood education, crime prevention grants and job training. And since we don’t have the money for rods the city can’t attempt to levy federal matching funds so there’s another $105 million the city can’t use.
So out of the gate, Melina’s plan has eaten up half the endowment, cost the city $105 million in road money, and we still have to pay for her other programs. In the coming weeks Melina says she will introduce additional public safety plan elements. If her early ideas are already costing the city this much money, who knows how much she’ll spend if she were ever able to actually get her hands on it. This is vision? Only if your Oedipus Rex or Stevie Wonder. This public safety plan seemed like it was drafted by someone who wanted to be a county prosecutor who never tried a criminal case and let their law license expire and only renewed it four months before forming an exploratory committee before running for the job.
I hope the next time will be better, but I don’t think so. After all I couldn’t get a straight answer from her as to whether she thought the city was safer now than it was in 2006 when we had a record homicide rate.
My question for Melina on Crime