INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is trying to stay on top of issues at downtown bars through increased patrols and undercover officers.
To make that happen, the city spends hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime.
The owner of the Whistle Stop bar, Rob Strong, says the extra effort has made an impact. Strong says the biggest difference he’s noticed is how quickly IMPD responds to issues downtown. But based on situations he’s dealt with over the past few weeks, including violence and vandalism, he hopes police step it up even more.
Strong said just in the past week he’s reported several incidents to police.
“There was a group of four people beating the tar out of this lady in the middle of Illinois Street, and I went to help her and when I came back they were beating another guy. Monday night, a guy broke one of our TVs. Wednesday night, a guy broke my ATM outside,” Strong said.
But believe it or not, he says, the situation is actually better than it was a year ago.
“It is getting better without a doubt, and I don’t want to scare anyone from coming downtown. It’s safe. I mean you’re definitely more apt not to do something if there’s a heavier police presence,” Strong said.
IMPD Lt. Shane Foley said more officers around bars has been standard procedure for the past few years. “They are overtime units that are dedicated to this area of Indianapolis, particularly in the bar districts but also doing traffic stops and being visible showing people who are coming downtown that if you’re going to come downtown and you’re going to misbehave that we have officers out and we’re gonna be responding to it.”
News 8 reported in 2021 that IMPD spent nearly $600,000 in overtime to monitor downtown bars. After several issues in 2021, including hundreds of runs and shots fired calls to the Tiki Bob’s and Taps and Dolls bars, Foley says, police are making a more conscious effort to hold not only patrons but also bar owners accountable.
“To say these are our expectations, we want you to have a strong functioning businesses downtown but we want you to obey the law, obey our ordinances, and we want you to be friendly with other business owners and residences and those who are visiting our city,” Foley said.
Foley said IMPD determines where to put money into overtime based on what’s happening in the city. He said the officers who work around the bars are paid extra on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.