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23 rookie officers join IMPD as officials address a staffing crisis

IMPD 26 recruit class 2.jpg
IMPD 26th recruit class.jpg
Posted at 3:02 PM, Sep 15, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Twenty-three new recruits took an oath to protect and serve Friday, becoming the latest class of rookie officers to join the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

"You have chosen to join us during an era of change for Indianapolis and IMPD," Mayor Joe Hogsett told the new officers during their swearing in ceremony at the IMPD Training Academy, 901 North Post Road. "You also join at a time of increased commitment from the city of Indianapolis that includes an 86% overall increase in first year wages for IMPD since 2016."

The 26th Recruit Class began on July 31 with 33 candidates. The 20 men and three women in this graduating class earn their badges at a time when staffing has been a major problem for IMPD.

IMPD 26th recruit class.jpg
The 20 men and three women in IMPD's 26th Recruit Class earned their badges during a graduation ceremony Friday, Sept. 15, 2023.

The city boosted pay for first year officers to nearly $72,000 a year, but still struggles to fill several hundred open positions.

"At a time when IMPD is losing more officers than they can bring in, the Capital City is facing a retention crisis," Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police President Rick Snyder said in a statement to WRTV. "Our elected officials must pull out all the stops to compete for a limited number of candidates."

Officials say the number of officers in the city remains critically low. At its peak this year, IMPD was at 1,590 officers; the lowest its been since 2014.

As Election Day approaches, police staffing has become an issue in mayoral race.

"We welcome these new officers to IMPD and are grateful for their service to our city," said Jefferson Shreve, a Republican hoping to unseat Hogsett, a Democrat, on Nov. 7. "It's an unfortunate truth that our city continues to lose more officers than we gain. Since 2016 when Mayor Hogsett took office, he's hired 755 officers, but lost 879."

Police departments across the nation are having similar problems finding, recruiting and keeping officers. Staffing shortages have been reported in cities including Atlanta, San Francisco, Memphis and Portland.

At the academy on Friday, graduates accepted their badges and were rewarded with cheers, handshakes and big hugs from loved ones.

Now that they've finished their 28 weeks training, these new officers will embark on another 20 weeks of supervised field training. Afterwards, they will finally be ready to patrol the city on their own.

In a speech, newly minted Officer Adam Fike expressed the hope and optimism he and his classmates share.

"None of us wants to just work a job," Fike said. "There are plenty of options for a comfortable life in this city with a career that doesn't require body armor. We chose this path because we believe we can make a difference for our neighbors."

IMPD is still hiring. Anyone interested in joining the department can learn more at joinimpd.indy.gov.

MORE | ‘We need people’: Central Indiana law enforcement agencies face recruitment, staffing challenges | IMPD places billboards in neighboring states in effort to recruit new officers | IMPD teams up with local film production company to film commercial | Police union president says IMPD staffing is dangerously low despite new recruit class

Contact WRTV reporter Vic Ryckaert at victor.ryckaert@wrtv.com or on Twitter: @vicryc.