In another effort to insure that YOUR LIFE MATTERS Council Democrats and the Fraternal Order of Police came together in a new proposal that could help reduce crime and revitalize Indianapolis neighborhoods by bringing vacant properties and empty lots back to life and provide rent-free homes for public safety officers, including IMPD Officers and Sheriff’s Deputies.. The plan, called “Safe Neighborhoods Now” is being proposed by City-County Council President Maggie Lewis, Vice-President John Barth and other Council Democrats. The plan would help reduce crime and stabilize neighborhoods by encouraging IMPD Officers and Sheriff’s Deputies to live in redeveloped or newly constructed houses on vacant lots in high crime areas, where they can reside for two years rent-free. Council Voice-President Barth, Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) Vice-President Rick Snyder appeared on Afternoons with Amos, along with Council staffer Ryan Cramer to explain the benefits of the program. Safe Neighborhoods Now would begin as a pilot in the Mapleton-Fall Creek neighborhood. Up to five houses in high-crime areas would be rehabbed with funding coming from formerly Rebuild Indy funding. At the end of an officer’s Safe Neighborhoods Now two-year residency, the officer will be offered the opportunity to buy the house. This will create a permanent public safety presence in the neighborhood and put the house back on the property tax rolls.
In a surprise reaction after Barth and Snyder’s Afternoons with Amos appearance, Mayor Greg Ballard’s Chief of Staff Ryan Vaughn issued a statement blasting Council Democrats for not consulting the Mayor about their proposal, even though it won’t be formally introduced to the Council until July 14. But in blasting the Democrats, Chief of Staff Vaughn publicly opened the door to the Ballard Administration breaking a long standing Indianapolis city policy which is enshrined in state law that allows Indianapolis/Marion County public safety employees to live in suburban counties. In his response, Vaughn surprisingly challenged Democrats and the FOP saying they should “Work with the state to change the law that lets officers live outside the city they serve.” Vaughn then revealed that, “Currently, 241 IMPD officers live outside of Indy, accounting for $15M in salaries. The Sheriff’s numbers are not available, but believed to be the same. Moving those officers back to Indy would benefit all neighborhoods, not just one. These officers are paid with Indy tax dollars, yet their taxes are going to benefit neighborhoods in surrounding counties, not Indy.” For nearly forty years no Indianapolis mayor has ever publicly opened the possibility of changing the law to require public safety employees to live in Marion County. Click the Media Player to Hear the Democrats and FOP Safe Neighborhoods Now Proposals. Runs 23 Minutes ©2014 WTLC/Radio One.