Muncie police adds reserves, increases firepower on street, goes for traditional look
By Rick Yencer
MUNCIE, IN - Muncie patrol officers will soon add an M16 assault rifle to their arsenal on the street besides being backed up by 15 more reserve officers and soon will be driving traditional black and white patrol cars..
The upgrade of Muncie law enforcement besides extension of federal funds to keep five regular officers employed was announced Thursday by Mayor Dennis Tyler, who was surrounded by the 15 new police reserves.
"We have a diverse group joining the department...a railroad conductor, a corrections officer, a doctor, an emergency medical technician, a retired police officer, a Ball State student with a military background, a 911 dispatcher, and a mechanic, just to name a few," said Tyler.
The 15 new reserves, doubling the current reserve force, were sworn in at city hall and all greeted Tyler as he made the announcement.
Tyler also was glad that the U.S. Department of Justice extended its COPS Hiring Recovery Program through 2013 that will keep five regular officers on the street, That is about $300,000 in extra funds to supplement police department spending. The department now has 103 officers.
Police Lt. Steve Cox, who heads police tactical teams, justified the need for assault rifles in patrol cars, given the growing use of those weapons by suspected drug dealers and other dangerous felons.
Uniform officers are now armed with 9 mm or 40 caliber handguns that are no match against assault weapons that are commonly found in felon's homes, Cox said. The M16s are a gift from federal government surplus.
. Police Detective Nathan Sloan has been responsible for obtaining government surplus for the MPD, That surplus also includes uses two used Humvees that will supplement the department's other Humvees that were gifts from that police television farce, "Armed and Dangerous," that visited Muncie a few years ago.
The police department also look bids this week to buy five or more police cars. And the city had nine vehicle dealers from as far away as Fort Wayne and Louisville, Ky. to bid on the $150,000 purchase.
The new cars will be traditional black and white cruisers like those used in Yorktown and by other police departments. Stewart said a poll of officers supported the more traditional look that costs less than $1,000 a car to paint. That $150,000 will come out of the city budget.
Tyler, a retired fire captain, has made public safety a priority, with the city just securing another $4.5 million in federal money to keep laid off firefighters on the job and add seven more. And the city is buying a new 100-foot ladder truck to replace an older aerial unit.
Public safety spending including pensions makes up about 75 percent of the city government budget of nearly $35 million yearly.