Grounded by our commitment to the safety of every student, staff member and guests within our network of schools, Indianapolis Public Schools is thrilled to have completed Phase 1 of our self-initiated review of IPS Police operations, administrative practices and external partnerships. The results from the study are in – this invaluable information will help our team enhance our safety efforts throughout the district.  “It’s always good to do a self-assessment to affirm that we’re ensuring the safety of our students, staff and community – with the changing world we live in, we wanted verification from an outside source that we are implementing best practices so that our students and staff are safe,” says David Rosenberg, IPS Operations Officer.

 

Goals of the independent study, aligned with IPS Strategic Plan 2015, were to:

  1. elevate safety
  2. drive efficient operations
  3. improve oversight and accountability
  4. strengthen community engagement

The results from the study are in – this invaluable information will help our team enhance our public safety efforts throughout the district. Here is what we found and what our next steps will be going forward in this process:

 

Currently, the IPS Police Department is made up of over 130 employees – over 60% minority and 35% female – serving as sergeants, officers, dispatchers and support personnel.  The 41 officers on the team have a combined 458 years of service experience to support the students and staff of IPS and make an average salary of just over $42,000. The departmental budget has been cut nearly 10% since 2011.

 

A review of IPS police cases was conducted; the focus area included incident reports, building and alarm checks, disturbances and student misconduct. The safety study shows a significant decrease of 15% in IPS police cases since 2013.  Of all police cases reported, criminal cases (including theft, drugs, vandalism, warrant, assault, battery, sexual misconduct and weapons) and investigations account for only a combined 5%. The report shows that code cases facilities checks together account nearly half of all police cases.

 

Though the analysis revealed several positive reports, it also shows us many areas of opportunity to address going forward to improve our safety efforts and to build stronger relationships with our parents and community. Strengthening our data collection and management process will result in a more consistent coding system, and creating a more consistent procedure to receive community concerns will allow for a more efficient workflow.

 

The study also points out in an “areas of further study” category that there are:

  • significant staffing concerns
    • 87% of officers are over forty years of age
    • low salaries contribute to officer turnover
    • no talent pipeline for recruitment
  • data collection and management impediments
    • inconsistent coding
    • certification and training needs
  • other activities that require officers’ time and effort, such as non-arrestee transport

Recommendations include:

  • engaging parents and community to build stronger relationships and create new opportunities to address school safety
  • conducting comprehensive legal analyses of non-arrestee transports and safety measures
  • implementing better records management system and processes for both personnel and cases, including analytics for predictive behaviors

The administration is now exploring the feasibility of the recommendations from IU Public Policy Institute to improve overall efficiencies, and intends to continue community conversations about what is needed to ensure our school communities are safe.

 

“What happens in the neighborhood impacts what happens at school – having strong community effort and open lines of communication [will help us] to identify root issues, so that we can effectively address them,” says Rosenberg. “Close collaboration with all parents, staff and community partners [throughout this process] will increase safety, streamline communication and really build a community effort to help the students of IPS.”