FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- Help is on the way, but it will take 18 months before new Fort Wayne police hires can patrol on their own.
Violence is up this year, particularly on the southeast side of town.
Why so long before the new recruits get their badges and hit the ground running?
City police commanders and the mayor say state laws slow down the process of getting them on the job for real.
The pace we're seeing for homicides and shootings in Ft. Wayne during 2013 makes a lot of people nervous.
The Henry Administration convinced city council to go along with a local income tax hike to take the department's officer count from 430 to 450.
July 15th brought formal word that a new police academy is coming.
" Being able to announce that we're going to be hiring 20 more police officers, I think is great for the city," said Democratic Mayor Tom Henry.
But city taxpayers will need to be patient.
The new officers are expected to graduate from academy training next June, then spend six months shadowing other veteran officers during a probationary period, meaning they become full-fledged cops in December 2014.
The new academy doesn't even launch until February, because the candidates first have to pass agility tests and jump through other state-mandated hoops.
" (They have to pass) psychological exams, medical exams, background investigations, that would preclude starting that academy class any sooner, actually we're on an accelerated schedule now," said Police Chief Rusty York.
The mayor acknowledges heightened crime concerns from a proliferation of guns, and issues with gangs and drug trafficking.
" You put those three elements together, and it makes parts of our city very vulnerable. By adding more police officers, obviously, we can add some additional levels of protection."
City officials deny that the city is unsafe until the new officers come on board.
Chief York insists the main impact so far has been extra hassles for current officers being able to secure vacation time when they want it.
The department is not taking applications for the new positions.
It will utilize an already established pool of applicants numbering about 600 candidates.
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