2:36 PM PST, December 13, 2012
When Public Safety Director Troy Riggs arrived in Indianapolis in late October he had no idea of the fiscal swamp of red ink left behind by his predecessor.
“I knew it was going to be difficult here. I was not aware of the level or the difficulty but we’ll get through it.”
Riggs knew that previous Public Safety Director Frank Straub presided over a projected $32 million public safety budget deficit last summer.
What he didn’t know was the amount of money Straub spent on consultants and outside contracts to address problems in the Metropolitan Police Department and proposed solutions and how IMPD was spending its money.
“The thing that is really most troubling to me is that within the Department of Public Safety there’s no administrative review. The chiefs aren’t called in and asked about their budgets. They’re not asked about spending. They’re not asked about overtime usage. They’re not asked about personnel allocation. That needs to be done on a regular basis.”
And it will be in the future as Riggs names efficiency teams to begin examining DPS and its departments after January 1st.
Riggs cut $365,000 from his own office budget his first month in Indianapolis even as he discovered how much money was spent and unaccounted for under Dr. Straub.
As documented by Fox 59 News, Straub spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on outside consultants to examine and revamp IMPD’s operations.
$80,000 went to a review of the Professional Standards Unit by the man who wrote Straub a reference letter in 2009, former NYPD Chief William Bratton.
$300,000 was paid to the International City/County Management Association to study IMPD’s patrol beats and recommend a zone patrol system.
An estimated $150,000 was spent on Boston-based leadership training.
And $50,000 was paid to Indianapolis-based Emmis Community Outreach last year to conduct focus groups on IMPD’s external and internal perception and to develop an image makeover plan.
The contract, signed by Straub in May of 2011, played upon, “Sense of urgency, seize the moment, capitalize on the positive public support of police in the wake of David Moore’s death to celebrate service and the good men and women serving our community.”
Those comments were included in an appendix of the contract negotiated by Straub and ECO and obtained by Fox 59 News last January.
Since that time, Straub successfully blocked Fox 59 News Open Records Act requests for a copy of the final report, citing Indiana code.
When Riggs became public safety director this fall he was advised of the Emmis report and started his own inquiry.
“That was eye-opening to read,” said Riggs. “I had not been given this report until I’d been here a couple weeks and I know you had been asking for it and we made it available to you once I found out.”
The report is a damning indictment of the attitude within IMPD and the city regarding its police department during the tenure of Frank Straub.
“They are like Caesar’s army,” the report quotes one community leader.
“They are dislike and racist,” said another.
The officers themselves had a low opinion of each other and their department.
“Within 10 minutes of getting to work, someone is bitching and moaning about something,” said one officer.
Officers are described as, “disgruntled,” and frustrated “over the way they are ‘treated by the media’ and the ‘misperceptions’ of the public.”
The report, completed in October, 2011, and set for implementation but never unveiled, suggests establishment of an IMPD Speakers Bureau, robocalls to officers, videos posted in social media and providing more “positive stories” to local media.
“I know there’s some statements in this report, very negative statements, regarding the police department from the public that they serve, some very negative statements from our officers regarding the past and how they feel and the lack of respect that they feel like they received from the community or the leadership,” said Riggs. “But this report is helpful and we’ll use it for one of the efficiency teams to look at morale.”
Riggs said turning around IMPD’s internal and external image will be a priority of one of several teams of officers assigned to look at all aspects of the department’s operations.
“I will never try to come up with a branding image unless we are deserving of that.”
Riggs said he has put an end to the payment of contracts to consultants with personal or professional ties to the public safety director.
“I will not ask for money for an outside consultant unless I think it will save that money and then some down the road.
“I believe we have some very bright dedicated individuals in Indianapolis within the DPS and the private sector that would gladly come and help us with an issue or if we feel like we don’t have the expertise so you won’t see me spending a lot of money on a lot of outside vendors or contracts for two reasons. One: I think we have the talent in-house and right now, we can’t afford it.”
Riggs also promised that he would provide an atmosphere of openness so that the public and the press could assess the operation of the department of public safety and the police department.
“If we have a report, and we’re going to be doing a lot of reports in the new year, internal reports, they’re going to be available to the public.
“No one needs to file an open records request. We’ll put them on line for the public to read.”
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