Report on Richmond Hill response nearly ready for release

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INDIANAPOLIS – The night of Nov. 10, 2012, was among the darkest ever in Indianapolis history.

Prosecutors charge in a cynical ill-fated insurance fraud scheme, Moncy Shirley, her boyfriend Mark Leonard and his brother Bob Leonard blew up Shirley’s home on Fieldfare Way.

Two neighbors died, dozens of homes were damaged or leveled, losses totaled $4 million and crews are still trying to rebuild the southside neighborhood even as weeds have overtaken Shirley’s property.

And yet, as on-duty firefighters and cops, off-duty sheriff’s deputies and emergency crews rushed to the community, it was perhaps the brightest hour for Indianapolis’ first responders.

The Richmond Hill Efficiency team, established by Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, has completed its after action report of what went right, what went wrong and what can be done, if there is a next time.

“There are incredible stories of what we did well,” said Riggs. “I want to make sure that’s in our protocol for the future. There are some things I think we can improve on, not major, but, I think we owe it to the citizens of this community whenever we have an event, we respond to it as well as we did there to look at everything possible and make sure we are trying to improve continuously.”

The explosion, which happened during Rigg’s second week on the job as the city’s new public safety director, taxed not only first responders–who searched a disaster zone in the dark, cautious about potential secondary blasts, fearful of a terrorist act and frantic to save lives–but also required a citywide response of public agencies from the building inspectors to public works tasked with helping residents and victims recover in an efficient manner.

“We have one voice to make sure that everything is coordinated through Homeland Security,” said Riggs. “That’s been protocol from that point on.

“It’s something that I’m assuming to see in the report.”

Riggs read the report, sent it back for further clarification, will receive the final report Thursday and release it publicly next week.

“As I said when I got here, we’re going to be transparent. We’e going to try to do the best job possible. If there are things in that report that show we didn’t perform certain segments well, I hope people will remember overall it was an outstanding response,” Riggs said.

In January, Riggs announced the first ever top-to-bottom review of public safety in Indianapolis by establishing efficiency teams to exam how the city and its agencies protect and serve citizens.

Some teams have already reported back; a graffiti eradication report led to a new ordinance approved by the City-County Council this week. Police morale, public safety vehicles and violent crime review reports have been completed with suggestions implemented.

Riggs expects to receive more reports regarding IMPD’s promotional and disciplinary processes by the end of the week.

Yet to be completed are reports on the implementation of a new computer aided dispatch system and the structural problems and operating inefficiencies of the Regional Operations Center on the site of the former Eastgate Consumer Mall.