It’s been a rocky eight months since Rick Hite was named interim chief of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
He succeeded Paul Ciesielski who stepped down as a result of controversy surrounding the investigation of the David Bisard case. Hite’s boss, Public Safety Director Frank Straub, announced his resignation ten days later after tangling with Hite over an investigation into alleged police corruption.
All summer long, Hite was dogged by questions about his lack of Indiana law enforcement accreditation and training. In September, Hite angered the Marion County Prosecutor and his own department by signing a letter to a judge vouching for a convicted felon during a probation hearing.
All the while, the department’s number of sworn officers fell below 1,600, crime statistics to the FBI went unreported, budget woes prohibited new recruit classes and replacement of basic police gear and violent crime rose.
Now Hite was been sworn in as Indianapolis’ full-time police chief.
“The mayor told me when I arrived that he like Chief Hite but he told me I would have the ultimate decision,” said newly hired Public Safety Director Troy Riggs. “He gave that to me and I made that today.”
Mayor Greg Ballard told assembled top commanders and community leaders that Hite has worked diligently to learn Indianapolis’ neighborhoods and its residents.
“He’s pretty much everywhere,” said Ballard. “I know whenever I arrive on a crime scene, he’s usually already been there or is there when I pull up.”
Violent crime in Indianapolis is up six percent over December of 2011.
“We’re going to move forward and I think better days are ahead,” said Hite. “We’re working on that six percent you talked about from last year but all of a sudden we’ve had an upswing and we’re looking at how we’re going to look at intelligently led policing.”
Hite spoke of, “flattening systems,” within the department and adapting to technology-led communications.
“I think a couple times the word, ‘team’, was mentioned and I truly feel this is a step toward a team concept,” said FOP Lodge 86 President Sgt. William Owensby. “We’re very optimistic that this is a step in the right direction and we’re going to have to move to get things done and make Indianapolis a great place to live.
“He’s the guy now. he’s going to have to make some decisions that are going to be tough decisions.”
Hite announced he has already identified 10-15 officers in internal positions at IMPD that can be transferred to street patrols.