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Kerry Forestal

Source: WISH-TV / other

INDIANAPOLIS — Indianapolis Metro Police is getting a whopping chunk of money next year to operate. Their colleagues at the Marion County Sheriff’s Office are asking for that same consideration next year when city leaders figure out how to spend tax money in 2025.

This year, the sheriff’s office is getting a $14.6 million increase to operate. Sheriff Kerry Forestal tells WISH-TV that the increase is certainly helpful, but will still not be enough to solve his department’s problem of understaffing.

For now, this year’s increase will only be enough to cover mandatory cost of living raises for his current roster of deputies.

“This percentage was coming, so that percentage is about a $1500 dollar raise,” Forestal said. “Is that going to solve our problems? No, but as we’re moving forward, we couldn’t do anything more because of the collective bargaining agreement.”

That CBA between the city and deputies expires next year, which will set the stage for negotiations with city leaders for better pay.

“We’ll be back next year to work with the mayor and the council to try and get a better, fair, salary to be competitive throughout central Indiana,” said Forestal. “Nobody, I think, comes into this law enforcement career expecting to become rich, but they should be fairly paid.”

Forestal added the timing will not be ideal for negotiations on a new CBA since they, Indy DPW, IMPD, and the fire department will also all be up for increased funding for pay raises next year.

With that in mind, Forestal is foregoing trying to hire more deputies this year, and instead using that money for this year, to the tune of $200,000, to commission a third-party study to look into the department’s pay scale compared to others in neighboring counties.

He hopes this will provide perspective to help bolster their argument for meaningful pay raises next year.

“$200,000 is a lot, but that’s 4 deputies I’m not going to hire this year because we don’t pay enough,” Forestal said. “So, overall, it’s a small percentage of the budget to be able to get this money (and) to get other deputies back.”