Both Franklin and Greenwood police departments want to put more officers on patrol in 2017 to respond to more calls for help in the growing communities and to do more work to prevent crime.
The Greenwood Police Department wants to add three officers and grow to a force of 61. Franklin wants to add two, becoming a 49-officer department. Franklin already added one officer this year.
Both communities have added police officers in recent years, and the chiefs say they will continue to ask their city councils to find money to add police every year, citing the population growth, the increase in visitors to each city and the need to start or grow programs, such as putting police officers in the local schools or on bikes, where they are more approachable and can build relationships in the communities.
“A lot of potential crimes are curbed just by communication,” Franklin police Chief Tim O’Sullivan said.
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The police department has an officer dedicated to Franklin schools starting this month, and Mayor Joe McGuinness wants to consider putting a second officer in the schools in an effort to curb threats and get kids who may be making wrong choices back on track through a trusted relationship with an officer.
In Greenwood, a starting police officer will make a proposed salary of $44,073 in 2017, and the benefits cost taxpayers another $25,961. A patrol car and all other equipment costs about $30,000. In total, adding three officers will cost just more than $300,000.
A starting Franklin police officer earns $48,519 this year, and the benefits tack on another $19,413. The city also pays for $2,500 in uniforms, $2,500 for weapons, $27,000 for a vehicle, $3,845 for a radio and $7,000 for in-car equipment. The cost to add two officers in 2017 would be $221,554.
The city councils in both communities will consider the requests during the upcoming 2017 budget hearings.
“The benefits will far outweigh any expenses,” McGuinness said.
McGuinness said calls for help aren’t skyrocketing in Franklin, but it is important that the police department stay proactive due to the city’s proximity to Indianapolis. About six officers are patrolling during each shift, he said.
“Add another officer to a shift, that’s just one more person out there helping the citizens,” McGuinness said.
Franklin police responded to 14,750 calls in 2013, which had increased by 12 percent in 2015.
Greenwood is the sixth largest city in the state and has the 16th highest rate of reported violent crime, Greenwood police Chief John Laut said. But by comparison, the city is ranked 99th when it comes to the ratio of officers to residents.
But only looking at the number of residents in Greenwood is misleading, Laut said.
“Greenwood is quickly becoming a destination city, more so than it has in the past,” Laut said.
The Greenwood Park Mall has always attracted regional shoppers, but the new water park and the growing parks system attracts lots of visitors who might be in an auto accident or need to report a theft.
Greenwood police are sent to an average of 82 calls per day and don’t have time to conduct extra patrols in a problem neighborhood or where residents are reporting speeding.
“We don’t have that luxury,” Laut said. “We’re trying. We do the best we can.”
Greenwood and Franklin police departments want to add officers in 2017.
Current number of officers: 61
Proposed officers: 64
Additional cost in year 1: $300,000
Current number of officers: 47
Proposed officers: 49
Additional cost in year 1: $221,554