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IMPD Chief Bryan Roach On Indy's Need To Start Witness Protection Program

Indy's City County Council is considering an appropriation of $300,000 to start the program, while an Indiana Senate Bill would provide an additional $100,000 if approved by state lawmakers.

INDIANAPOLIS -- After hitting a record number of murders in Indianapolis for 2017, the city's police chief is asking city and state leaders for funding to start a local witness protection program.

"There's a real fear out there of retaliation," says IMPD Chief Bryan Roach, "There's a sense of concern for [witnesses and] their own lives and the lives of their families, so when you ask them to participate in the court proceedings, which are open, it's a scary thing for them."

Members of the Indianapolis City County Council are considering approving an additional appropriation of $300,000 in the 2018 Budget of the Office of Public Health and Safety to cover the cost of a new witness protection.  In addition, a bill in the Indiana Senate would provide $100,000 to Marion County for the program if approved.

Chief Roach says if the funding is approved by the city, the money would be housed in the Office of Public Health and IMPD would use the funds along with the Marion County Prosecutor's Office.

The chief says the money would be used, in part, to provide transportation, temporary housing, emergency telephone services and food for witnesses to dissuade any reluctance that a witness may have in testifying.

Is $400,000 enough to start such a program?

"We're not sure.  We won't know until we start using it," says Chief Roach.  "I think if we can do a pilot program this year and then assess and see how it was used, I think we'll have a better number of what that [funding] number is.

"It's another tool in our toolbox.  It's not going to solve everything, but it's another option for us."


Photo credit: Getty Images / Raymond Boyd

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