After hours of presentations and questions, the public safety committee of the Indianapolis City-County Council decided to holdoff on making a decision on re-appointing Public Safety Director Frank Straub until the next committee meeting.
The committee meeting wrapped up just after 11:00 p.m. Wednesday night.
Councilors say they had more questions to ask, but ran out of time.
In January, Straub told individual councilors he was planning to leave Indianapolis after the Super Bowl and if the council turned down his nomination for another term, he would quit.
The Public Safety Committee of the council is expected to approve Straub’s nomination Wednesday night, only as a means to send the director’s name to the full council.
“I’ve certainly seen enough in this last year that I can’t vote for him,” said Perry Township Republican Councilman Jack Sandlin, a retired deputy chief of the Indianapolis Police Department. “I want to hear the director’s explanation for some of the crises that have been created in the public safety department and I say, ’created,’ because three years ago we didn’t have these crises and now we do.”
Straub enters his third nomination hearing, just weeks after announcing his public safety budget was $15 million in deficit.
“A lot about the budget is my concern,” said Democrat Mary Moriarity Adams, chairwoman of the committee. “The amount of salaries that are paid in the DPS immediate administrative offices, other contracts. The other councilors will probably have budget related questions and probably questions on some of the things he’s been doing while he’s been the director of public safety.”
Straub was criticized for hiring Altegrity Solutions, operated by his professional sponsor William Bratton, to investigate IMPD internal affairs. That report, calling for sweeping changes, was completed in January but just released this week, two days before his nomination hearing.
“We brought in a $71,000 consultant to write us a report to criticize the civilian review process?” asked Sandlin. “If it’s been going on for two years under Frank Straub, why didn’t he recognize it? Why did we have to bring in a $71,000 consultant to see that.”
The director also hired Emmis Communications in 2011 for $50,000 to create a marketing plan for IMPD. The plan has not yet been released.
Recent statistics show violent crime is up 15 percent in Indianapolis. Property crime is up 13 percent. Fewer officers are patrolling the streets and recruit classes have been cut back while administrative positions and salaries inside the director’s office have grown. Outside training expenses have increased into the six figure range. As police cars break down and are not replaced, downtown violence continues, the city has fallen behind on paying vendors and basic supplies and officer protection gear are in short supply, councilors are asking themselves: “How is Frank Straub doing?”
“Well, I would say since we haven’t reported to the FBI our crime stats for last year and our budget seems to be within DPS 12-13 in the hole and I know that the morale within the IMPD officers is worse than when we combined (IPD and the Marion County Sheriff’s Departments), I would say, not well at all,” said Adams.
“I’ve talked to a majority of the Republicans that are not supportive of this guy going forward as the director,” said Sandlin. “I mean, he’s been here for two years and we’re just now recognizing that these are crises? Where’s he been for two years?”
Straub still enjoys the full support of Mayor Ballard.
“He’s effected the change I want done. You can see the homicide rates continue to go down in the last two years,” said Mayor Ballard. “Lot of changes that should’ve been in the police department frankly 20-30 years ago and now are finally getting done.”