EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Safety was at the top of mind at Wednesday’s city budget hearings.
Next year’s key capital projects range from new infrastructure, to road improvement projects, to new equipment for police and fire fighters.
At Wednesday’s hearings, we found out what the police department wants the city to fund in 2020:
- New vehicles
- Advanced body cameras
- Renewing safety vests
- Upgrades to a bomb robot
EPD also wants to figure out how to bring new officers on board quicker.
In 2015, EPD’s bomb unit was used to dispose of devices on the city’s east side. A suspicious bag was found outside of a businesses.
We are learning upgrades were last made to a department bomb robot in 2008 and Chief Billy Bolin says it’s time for more.
“And I think we had purchased it several years prior to that, so it’s getting up there in years," explained Chief Bolin. "But with the upgrades it should last us for many more.”
That is only one of many purchases EPD is asking for in its budget request. They are also asking for 10 new Ford Explorers to replace old cruisers as needed.
“Taller officers and heavier officers would complain about it,” said Chief Bolin. “Just a normal person getting in and out, I don’t think it’s that big of deal. But when you’re in and out all day every day, the vest, belt, it should help.”
Chief Bolin says year to date crime stats are down six percent and shots fired runs are trending down, but illegal guns seized are up by 18 percent.
“So kind of trended up in the guns we’re seizing,” Chief Bolin stated.
Every five years, officers vests expire and 123 will need to be replaced. That’s not including new officers hired, a challenge of its own.
Chief Bolin told City Council more officers retired last year than in any other year under his watch, 26 in total. 14 have left this calendar year with four more set to go by the end of September.
The department wants to work with the FOP to change its hiring process to get more officers on the streets quicker.
“We’re looking at trying to figure out a way to add a third academy in the calendar year instead of just hiring in January and July," says Chief Bolin. "The hold there has been the emergency vehicle course. The academy level is booked from throughout the state.”
Body cameras and tazers were among the ticket items.
Chief Bolin applauded the department’s VIPER unit, which targets violent criminals.
The next budget hearing will be for joint departments on August 20.