Indianapolis area police officers will don new blue uniforms, flash newly badges, and patrol streets in new gray cruisers, says the Indianapolis Star. Decisions are being made on details of the Jan. 1 merger of the Indianapolis Police Department and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. Officials need to blend two departments with different cultures, different constituencies, and different policies.
Indianapolis officers will be allowed to use two controversial maneuvers — previously off-limits — to stop fleeing cars. Helicopter patrols and officers on horseback will become more common sights in the sheriff’s jurisdiction. Dennis Nowicki, who became chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, N.C., Police Department when city and county departments there merged in 1994, agrees the public shouldn’t feel a great shake-up. “There’s not going to be a lot of changes right away,” said Nowicki, who now does consulting work. “The changes will occur over time.” The merger will affect 1,184 officers in the Indianapolis Police Department and 397 deputies in the Sheriff’s Department. Mayor Bart Peterson has touted the move as necessary to increase efficiency and free up dollars for public safety. City Controller Bob Clifford estimates the consolidation will save taxpayers $9 million a year, though critics have questioned that number.