Groundbreaking official for big improvements to Indiana Law Enforcement Academy

The improvements are intended to allow for additional instructors to provide in-depth training to future officers.

By: - August 22, 2023 1:51 pm

A rendering of what the new Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy will look like in Plainfield. (Photo from CSO Architects)

Tuesday marked another major groundbreaking in Indiana — this time for an overhaul of the state’s law enforcement training academy.

Republican Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials gathered outside the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy (ILEA) in Plainfield, just west of Indianapolis, as part of the ceremonious shovels-in-ground event.

Some major construction work has already started, however. Officials gave remarks before a backdrop of large machinery and sounds of busy work crews.

“It’s going to draw state police and conservation officers, excise police and sheriffs departments and local police departments, and a lot more statewide are all going to come to the door,” Holcomb said Tuesday. “You’re all going to be exposed to the highest standard and the best training … this all has just been long, long overdue.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb and other state officials break ground for new construction on the grounds of the Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

Upcoming renovations will allow for more scenario-based training, said ILEA executive director Tim Horty. That includes the installation of new technology and construction of new dormitories and a training village. The project will additionally include a new emergency vehicle operations course. 

The improvements will allow for additional instructors to provide in-depth training to future officers, Horty said. He emphasized, too, that the academy trains nearly two-thirds of the state’s law enforcement officers.

“Indiana’s law enforcement profession has made more progress under Gov. Holcomb than any other governor in recent history,” he said at the Tuesday groundbreaking. “Our governor does and always supports our officers on the front line when they need and deserve the state’s support. … Investing in our future officers is an investment to the benefit of all of the state of Indiana.”

Holcomb touts big capital projects — “all paid in cash”

Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter said the ILEA improvements will provide the state’s law enforcement “an opportunity to do what we should — not what we can.”

“That’s a big difference,” Carter continued. “I think  the duty that we have to every single police officer in this state, but ultimately to every citizen of this state, is paramount to what we’re doing here today. I never dreamt this would happen — I never dreamed in a million years.”

A rendering of what the new Indiana Law Enforcement Training Academy will look like in Plainfield. (Photo from CSO Architects)

In 2021, state lawmakers approved $70 million for the renovations — although inflation has pushed costs some 22% above original estimates, requiring state fiscal leaders to approve additional funds. 

The ILEA plan is part of a string of capital projects prioritized by Holcomb in recent budget sessions at the Statehouse. The governor noted Tuesday that because the state is not bonding or borrowing, “we’re saving tens of millions of dollars by not paying interest payments.”

“When you just stop and think about all the work that is going on simultaneously … we’ve queued up an unprecedented amount of capital work projects around the state of Indiana,” he said. That includes a string of state-funded projects, like the recently completed Fall Creek Pavilion and a new state archives building — which broke ground last week. 

Plans are also in motion for a new Westfield Correctional Facility and an overhaul of both the Indiana School for the Deaf and Indiana School for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

The governor also pointed to various new roads and bridges being built around the state, as well as 17 new trail projects and broadband internet expansions.

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb speaks with reporters on Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2023. (Casey Smith/Indiana Capital Chronicle)

“All these projects are all underway — all at the same time. It requires so much coordination, so much cooperation, and all those projects, none of them — as important as they all are, in my mind, no exaggeration — none of them are more important than this. Because truly, public safety is paramount, really foundational, to community development,” Holcomb continued, referring to the new law enforcement training center, which he called “world class.”

“This will be best-in-the-country, and it’s long overdue,” he continued. “It shows just how important it is to every other investment that we make to have the public safety front and center — that obviously affects, hopefully in a positive way, our community development, or economic development and ultimately our workforce development. This is a linchpin to it all, and that’s why nothing we do is more important than making sure the training and education that they receive is second to none.”

Raises on the way for state troopers

Starting salaries for state troopers also increased to $70,000 per year as part of the new state budget approved by lawmakers earlier this year. The move was among Holcomb’s 2023 budget priorities and widely supported by the Republican-dominated General Assembly.

The salary increases and improved pay matrix for Indiana State Police (ISP) troopers went into effect July 1.

The Indiana State Police Alliance previously testified that state troopers are among the lowest-paid law enforcement professionals in Indiana. That’s despite ISP recruits completing twice as many hours of training.

The new state budget includes $75 million for the pay raises. The funding also shortened the ISP pay matrix from 20 years to 15 years, meaning troopers will see significantly faster salary increases throughout their careers.

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Casey Smith
Casey Smith

A lifelong Hoosier, Casey Smith previously reported on the Indiana Legislature for The Associated Press. Internationally, she has reported on water quality across South America. She holds a master’s degree in investigative reporting and narrative science writing from the University of California/Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. She previously earned degrees in journalism, anthropology and Spanish from Ball State University, where she now serves as an instructor of journalism.

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