Riggs: House explosion costing $300,000 for investigation, overtime

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Public Safety Director Troy Riggs told Fox59 News that the bills are starting to come in regarding the city’s response to the Nov. 10 Richmond Hill explosion that killed two people and damaged dozens of homes.

“When you look at the costs, the administrative costs, we’re going to be over $300,000,” said Riggs in a wide-ranging interview about the financial challenges he inherited when he took over the deficit-ridden Department of Public Safety in late October.

“When you break that down to personnel hours, that’s in excess of 6,500 personnel hours that have been used to not only respond but used to investigate this crime.”

Riggs said 20 fire and police investigators continue to probe the blast around-the-clock even more than a month after the explosion at the home of Moncy Shirley on Fieldfare Way destroyed the home of neighbors Dion and Jennifer Longworth who died in the blast.

A detailed breakdown from DPS puts the cost at $308,674. That figure includes regular and overtime hours for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Homeland Security, the Indianapolis Fire Department and Animal Care and Control in addition to equipment costs.

Neighborhood losses are estimated at $4.4 million.

Riggs said the unexpected costs came just as his Chief Financial Officer Valerie Washington identified more than $300,000 in savings in the Public Safety Director’s own budget.

The director said he found a department and police budget that lacked basic financial controls and accountability.

The full extent of the DPS and IMPD budget deficits is still unknown, according to Riggs, who said he is cracking down on money spent on outside consultants and contractors.

Fox59 News Live @ Five will reveal for the first time a $50,000 study commissioned by previous Public Safety Director Frank Straub that analyzed public and internal perceptions of IMPD and image makeover plans to improve them.

Straub stonewalled attempts by Fox59 News throughout 2012 to receive a copy of the study that was written to, “seize the moment, capitalize on the positive public support of police in the wake of (Officer) David Moore’s death,” in January, 2011.