Last Thursday, IMPD proposed its 2021 budget to the Indianapolis City-County Council Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee. During the committee meeting, IMPD leadership broke down their $261,245,103 budget line by line. The main takeaway being that IMPD seeks more officers and more equipment.
After the killing of Dreasjon Reed, McHale Rose, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, the community took to the streets to make their demands loud and clear: Defund IMPD. Yet, the demands to divest from police and reinvest in our community went completely unheard by Chief Taylor and IMPD leadership. Instead, the exact opposite was proposed. IMPD responded by proposing an overall $7+ million increase in its 2021 budget.
In June, we saw the largest mass protests in recent history calling for the end to police violence and divestment from police. In Indianapolis, historic number of protestors took to the Statehouse lawn to demand action and change, only to be ignored by our city’s leadership during this year’s budget discussions. The 2021 proposed IMPD budget is offensive, unconscionable, and outright irresponsible. Increasing IMPD’s budget to put more officers in our streets is guaranteeing more police brutality and killings. Our community is not safe with more officers on our streets.
The justification for more funding also came with a complete disregard for the facts surrounding the issues our community is facing. When asked about racial disparities in drug enforcement, Chief Taylor responded by stating that, “as far as marijuana is concerned, it's a drug of choice for certain people." We know extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests persist. It is a fact that Black and white people use marijuana at similar rates, but in Indiana Black people are 3.5x more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people. These racial disparities must not be ignored.
We also know our community is in dire need of community based mental health services. It’s time to remove police from our existing Mobile Crisis Assistance Teams and embrace teams composed of highly trained professionals, including nurses, doctors, psychiatrists, and social workers, to respond to incidents with people who are in mental health crises.
During IMPD’s budget discussions, they also highlighted reforms to their policies and practices as a response to the outcry from the community to enact systemic change. However, it has been proven that reforming use-of-force and other policies has not been enough to bring wholistic, systemic change. Devastating murders at the hands of police are still occurring at alarming rates. We must rebuild, from the ground up, a structure to achieve public safety for all.
This response is also strangely familiar. After the killing of Aaron Bailey in 2017 by IMPD officers, IMPD’s response turned to reforming policies and practices. There is a fundamental truth we must confront: Black people continue to be murdered and brutalized by police with near impunity.
More of the same won’t fix this problem.
More of the same won’t save Black lives.
More of the same won’t help communities of color thrive.
More of the same is not justice.
We must divest from IMPD and reinvest in our Indianapolis community. It is not up for debate - Black lives are on the line. The city must show with its actions that Black Lives Matter.
Contact your councilor and ask them to hold IMPD accountable by not approving their 2021 proposed budget.