Faced with a tight budget and widespread public concerns about violent crime, Indianapolis officials could consider a new revenue source to help fill the police department's depleted coffers: charging a security fee at some of the city's biggest events, the Indianapolis Star reports. Officials estimate they could raise as much as $1 million a year by charging for the police protection they have long provided free for conventions and big events, including the Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration, the 500 Festival and the Indianapolis 500.
As public safety budgets tighten, cities like Louisville and Salt Lake City have re-examined whether they should offer free event policing. Other big convention cities, including Las Vegas, have charged vendors for years. Some of the city's biggest draws, which attract hundreds of thousands of people, incur the highest security costs. Tourism officials worry that a security fee could have a chilling effect on attracting events. Such a plan could face scrutiny from officials sensitive to business needs. “We are in an extremely competitive marketplace,” said City-County Council member Jack Sandlin, a former police officer. “Thirty years ago, we made a decision to attract sports and other events. The extra cost was part of that. Could charging for police services cause us to lose events?