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home : news & opinion : news & opinion
June 20, 2018

11/15/2009
Questions? Anyone?
After discussing a $246,000 shortfall in next year's city budget, Shelbyville's City Council kicked the can down the road. It was almost as if Shelbyville's predominantly Republican city council has embraced President Obama's message of "Hope." Except in this case, city officials are simply hoping next year's budget will magically heal itself sometime in the near future.

And if that doesn't happen? Hey! There's always racino money!

One reason for an increase in the 2010 city budget is Police Chief Bill Elliott's request for five additional police officers to patrol the Indiana Downs racetrack and Indiana Live! Casino.

Chief Elliott said, "We're getting about $220,000 each month in racino money, so why not use that money to pay for the extra protection we need because of their presence in the county."

It's important to note that no council members questioned the validity of Chief Elliott's request. Earlier, one councilman even suggested "if the chief needs the extra manpower, then he needs it."

What!?

Did the foregoing council action provide tacit approval for Chief Elliott's police proposal?

Without debate? Without questions?

City taxpayers have questions. Let me share some of them with you:

Does Shelbyville need to increase the size of its police force? If so, what is that need based on? What type of additional protection will be provided? Protection from assaults? Drug trafficking? Money laundering? Organized crime? Protection from white-collar crime? Prostitution? Traffic accidents?

What other options exist for providing police protection? Could additional police coverage be provided by auxiliary officers? Is there documentation and facts to support claims of an increase in crime? If so, does the crime trend suggest a likelihood of continuing? Or will crime decrease when the economy improves?

If the need for police protection decreases, will there be a reduction in force? Has the city council compared Shelbyville's police protection with towns of similar size?

Has the council projected the total cost of adding five new police officers? Including costs of benefits and insurance? Including cost of training and continuing education Including additional costs for automobiles, mileage and all new police equipment?

Will new officers be assigned specifically to the casino and racetrack area? Or will they have other duties and assignments? What supervisory structure will be required? Will promotions in rank be required? What other administrative costs will be required? How much will they cost? Will additional office space and equipment be required? How much will it cost? Will a new police station be required? A new precinct station? How much will it cost?

Why didn't city officials factor in the additional costs associated with police protection in the casino area before granting business "incentives" and tax breaks?

Would it make more sense to provide a substantial pay increase for existing officers rather than hiring new officers?

Questions? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?



Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Article comment by: One Hung-Lo

SamOS - Ditto.

John E. Law - outstanding analysis of the situation. I wish YOU could be our police chief.


Posted: Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Article comment by: Jon E. Law

I am a Law Enforcement Officer (and no…I am not the Chief). That being said, I will try to answer this from a neutral standpoint. As some will say I have a “Conflict of Interest” in this matter. But, I think it will be glaringly obvious which side I support.

The National average of Police to Population Ratio is 1 officer for every 322 people. Shelbyville is roughly 1 officer for every 485. A common misrepresentation is looking this up by the population. But you must take into account EVERYONE. Such as commuters, visitors, gamblers, illegal aliens, or anyone who “passes through” at any given time. These numbers are not reflected in a census.

I will try to answer the question(s) as to options, and type of protection. First, well, there is always not funding additional officers. But, let’s think for a moment. What are, or what should be, the core principles or duties of City Government? This, unfortunately, will differ depending on which ideologue you subscribe. But we can all agree Public Safety is, and should always be at the top of the list.

The question also considers what the citizens want, not simply what the Chief wants. Yes, the Police can manage with fewer officers, but the citizens will have to agree to not only less coverage, but less service as well.

Without getting too far off track, there are certain services our police officers provide, that are not offered by other departments. This is not a complaint, but a mere fact. For instance, try calling Indianapolis Metro, and asking them to unlock your vehicle, or write a report on a civil matter between neighbors. Not only would you not get that service, but also you would either be hung up on or laughed at. Neither one of these options is acceptable in this community, nor should it be.

The citizens decide the need, and the City provides the service. The need is impossible to guess, as the need always changes. So, you must always provide the service based on the current need. This takes me to the next point, “type “ of protection.

Asking what “type” of protection the officers will provide, is asking the Police to become fortunetellers. They would have to add a purple turban into their knapsack of metaphorical headgear. Much like the one Johnny Carson used to wear, when portraying “Karnack”.

The answer to the type of service they would provide is simple, that of which they are sworn to provide, which includes everything!

Also, I agree whole-heartedly with the use, or in this case the misuse, of tax incentives or abatements. The City is losing out on millions of dollars, which all has to be made up by the taxpayer. But, that is my opinion, and a separate issue.

I don’t want to suggest any of the city’s department heads should be given carte blanche, but let us not get too wrapped up in deliberating a genuine need.

That would be like a General in the field requesting more troops, and taking a lengthy approach for a response!


Posted: Monday, November 23, 2009
Article comment by: SameOSameO

Dear Ferris:

The City Councilmen will not answer nor look for answers to the questions, that could jeopardize their position in the local Republican Party. Our "elected officals" are also afraid of Grand Master Lee. I know that most all of them view this site so I challenge any of them that are not afraid to speak up on the budget/police officers issue - Do it! Go on record and show us Tax payers which of you are really working and not continuing to rubber stamp Furgy and Lee's orders. Until then I will continue to think that we have seven councilmen on marionette strings.


Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2009
Article comment by: regular guy

Im not a peace officer but if I was one Id agree that we should get an increase before the chief gets to hire new officers. I think we should also get incompetent duty pay for having to work for an incompetent chief. But like I said Im not a peace officer so maybe thats just my opinion

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2009
Article comment by: Ferris Bueller

nope, no other questions Dee. now let's see if the city counselmen will answer some of them


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