Merritt says he’ll appoint Democrat as IMPD chief

Republican mayoral candidate Jim Merritt says he wants a Democrat to serve as his chief of police if he’s elected next month.

Merritt announced Thursday that he would ask Bill Benjamin, a former Democratic candidate for Marion County Sheriff and former Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department deputy chief, to serve as the head of the IMPD because “the issues are bigger than party.”

“Whether he votes for me or not, he is the right person to serve our city,” Merritt said.

Benjamin has not formally accepted the offer, but Merritt said they’ve had conversations, and Benjamin has helped him on his crime prevention platform. Merritt said Benjamin is expected to announce his answer next week.

Merritt has made crime a key issue in his campaign, regularly criticizing his opponent, Democratic incumbent Joe Hogsett, for not doing enough to improve safety in the community.

“This isn’t a partisan problem,” Merritt said. “All blood is red. All bruises are blue.”

After Merritt’s announcement, Hogsett’s campaign sent out a statement that said Hogsett, if re-elected, plans to keep current IMPD Chief Bryan Roach in his role.

“Chief Bryan Roach has decades of experience within IMPD, as well as an impressive record and widespread respect throughout the community,” Hogsett campaign spokeswoman Heather Sager said. “He and his command staff have done an outstanding job in working to increase public safety and grow neighborhood trust—and the data shows that we are making encouraging progress over the last two years.”

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