A key part of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard's plan to fight the city's rise in violence is improving access to early education. He proposes spending $25 million over five years to send thousands of children to preschool. The mayor's “holistic approach,” released this morning, also calls for a study of expelled students and dropouts–as many as 1,800 last year alone. Results of the study would be used to find solutions for the troubled teens and ultimately provide specific recommendations to Indiana lawmakers. Funding relies on increasing the public safety income tax and eliminating the local homestead tax credit. The proposal also includes hiring an additional 280 police officers. It hinges on City-County council approval.

You can view the mayor's full proposal by clicking here.

July 30, 2014

News Release

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Calling the recent trend of violence a plague on society, today Mayor Greg Ballard introduced an initiative containing a holistic approach to making Indy a safer place to live and work.

“We, as society, can no longer keep doing the same things over and over again and expect different results,” said Mayor Ballard. “Crime in American cities is a symptom of larger societal problems. My plan will address the larger issues by investing in pre-school, helping dropouts and those expelled from school, adding more police officers and stopping the revolving door of criminals who keep committing crimes and getting re-arrested in Indy.”

Earlier this year the bi-partisan IMPD Staffing Commission, created by the City-County Council, recommended a funding model to provide sustainable funding to hire new IMPD Officers. That proposal will be introduced to the City-County Council for consideration at its next meeting on August 18. In an address today at Old City Hall, Mayor Ballard outlined a plan to use that funding to both hire new officers and address the societal issues that lead to poverty and crime.

Mayor Ballard believes the issue of crime and violence in American cities are tied to three buckets of responsibility – prevention, protection and punishment.

Bucket #1 – Prevention:

-Nearly double pre-school scholarships and expand eligibility for low-income families

-Help students who have been expelled, suspended or drop out of school

-Change Indy curfew ordinance

-Expand conflict resolution training through Peace Learning Center and Indy Parks

-Launch regional heroin awareness campaign

Bucket #2 – Protection:

-Hire 280 new IMPD officers by 2018

-Encourage people to report people illegally possessing guns to CrimeStoppers

-Full-time SWAT team

Bucket #3 – Punishment:

-Urge State to enact mandatory minimum sentence of 20-years for criminals who use a gun

-Invest up to $10M for courts, prosecutors, probation and community corrections

The bi-partisan IMPD Staffing Commission, created by the City-County Council, recommends an increase in the Public Safety Income Tax by 0.15% and elimination of the Local Homestead Tax Credit. If the Council approves both of these proposals, the average Indy resident would pay an additional $7.16 per month in taxes.

Mayor Ballard earlier this year announced the “Your Life Matters” campaign to bring together community leaders to address some of the broader problems that lead to criminal activity. The task force, being co-chaired by Tanya Bell of Indiana Black Expo and Jamal Smith of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission, is working on a program to increase mentoring, summer jobs programs, parental assistance and school dropout/expulsion issues. The group is to prepare a report to the Mayor due in late October.

Sources: Office of Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard

July 30, 2014

News Release

Statement from City-County Council President Maggie Lewis on Mayor Ballard’s Public Safety Tax Plan:

We are encouraged the Mayor has listened to our community and begun to accept the position of the Council Democrats that Indianapolis needs more police officers patrolling our neighborhoods. The issues of adding more police officers and working to solve the public safety crisis in our City are too important for mixed messages and broken commitments. The Mayor and the Council must work together to add more police officers to stem neighborhood violence and reduce the danger that our current officers face every day. The Council Democrats’ top priority is adding more police officers. We must address this crisis first.

However, it is also important that any funding plan for enhanced public safety is fiscally responsible. Since we are only now hearing about the Mayor’s public safety tax plan and have not yet seen the details, we will study it thoroughly, and quickly, to determine if it accomplishes the dual goals of public safety and fiscal responsibility. But we give him credit for finally outlining the framework of a strategy to address the increase in crime and to add more officers. It is imperative that the Mayor works with the entire community, public safety stakeholders and the Council to determine whether his public safety tax plan is the right approach for our City. For our part, we pledge to work with the Mayor and those stakeholders to try to solve this critical public safety problem.

Source: Office of City-County Council President Maggie Lewis

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