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INDIANAPOLIS–Crime prevention is getting attention in the proposed budget for 2022 from the mayor’s office. Priorities include adding at least 100 police officers and 50 “peacemakers”, or people who try and prevent violent crimes before they happen. Some of the money will come from the $419 million the city has as part of the American Rescue Plan.

LISTEN: Mayor Joe Hogsett makes his case for the 2022 budget.

The proposal, which must be approved by the City-County Council to become law, was presented by Mayor Joe Hogsett and City Controller Ken Clark.

“Indianapolis has experienced a tidal wave of gun violence that has swept across the United States, in no small measure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hogsett at Monday’s budget presentation at the City-County Council meeting. “Every American city is struggling with this crisis. But, tonight we have the opportunity to lead, not to follow.”

The proposal calls for $150 million of the American Rescue Plan money to be put toward new anti-crime efforts. That will be combined with money from the normal operating budget, which, like last year, totals about $1.3 billion for all areas of city operation.

The increase in violent crime is being blamed on several factors. Police have not been able to intervene as well as they could have without the pandemic being a factor. It curtailed some aspects of community-based, beat policing and completely curtailed in-person interventions. The stress of the pandemic. a reduction in community services and economic insecurity are also being blamed.

The new budget is built around addressing some of the challenges.

“Across the city residents are justifiably angry at a culture of death that has been fueled by an oversupply of guns and a deficit of hope,” said the mayor.

More cops and non-sworn officers

The city currently employs 1,683 police officer (with 40 of those being added Monday with a new graduating class). The hope is to have that number eventually reach 1,843. That can be a challenge, with about 32 percent of the force eligible for retirement.

This year the city made it’s first effort to recruit officers from out-of-state police departments. The department will have a class of recruits later this year, which may include some of the fruit of that effort.

The city currently employs six full-time peacemakers. The goal is to increase that number to 50, which city leaders justified with some statistics. It is calculated that this year the peacemakers were able to interrupt at least 427 potential violent crimes, with some of those related to social media posts.

Investing in tech, including license plate readers and gunshot detectors

If the budget is approved, the city will also be investing in technology, including more community cameras (as many as 350), which will be independently powered with solar technology. Another investment is in license plate readers. The department also plans an investment in gunshot detection technology, which will be in the experimental stage. That will be paired with license plate readers.

No private jails

For the first time in 25 years the county will have no private jails. Those contracts will end and will not be renewed in anticipation of housing inmates at the new criminal justice campus. That will result in a budget reduction for the sheriff, who will no longer have to pay the private companies to run three facilities.

A portion of the budget (about $51.5 million), will also be devoted to fighting the root causes of crime, which includes $30 million for the treatment of mental illness and $5.5 million for re-entry services, to help people getting back into society, who might re-offend.

The budget will get consideration of the committee and the full council, which is likely to take about ten weeks. The final vote is expected on Oct. 18.