Austin City Limits: Not Enough Police For All The Drug Calls

Sep 15, 2015

Since an HIV outbreak in Scott County earlier this year, many more calls about illegal drug use have come in to the Austin Police Department.
Credit Jimmy Emerson / https://www.flickr.com/photos/auvet/4716903349

After a year of struggling to bring an HIV epidemic under control, the Scott County city of Austin is now confronting a problem of police manpower.

Austin has six officers for a city of 4,300. However, police say federal standards suggest the city should have twice that much manpower.

Mayor Doug Campbell says the police force has been undermanned for years, even before the drug problem blamed for the HIV outbreak led to more police calls too.

Austin is adding a seventh officer, and Campbell says the city will make greater use of reserve officers – but he says the city still needs more help.

“We’ve leaned pretty heavily on the Indiana State Police and they’ve been awesome. They’ve really worked hand-in-hand with our police department and we’re getting a lot of effort put together here in Austin from the state,” Campbell says.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute says it's already working with Scott County to deliver emergency aid. Spokesman Adam Baker notes the agency's mission includes grants for pop-up needs, such as when additional officers were needed in Boone County during the I-65 closure.

Legislators paired a needle-exchange program for Scott County to bring the HIV outbreak under control with a call for a crackdown on the drug trade.

The new two-year state budget includes $1.7 million going to the Criminal Justice Institute for drug enforcement.