Indy’s new police chief takes over, looks for ways to reduce violent crime

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Jan. 1, 2016) -- It’s 2016 and the Indianapolis has a new police chief. Starting Friday, former public safety director Troy Riggs takes over for departing chief Rick Hite.

As the city’s new police chief, Riggs knows he’s inheriting a public safety crisis.

2015 was a deadly year in Indianapolis. 144 criminal homicides set a record as the deadliest total in the city’s history, especially the second half of the year.

“You would be hard pressed to find a six-month period that has ever been so violent. We’re going to work on that,” said Riggs.

It wasn’t just homicides that went up in 2015. Non-fatal shootings spiked as well.

As of last week, there were 437 non-fatal shootings in the city and the final number finished even higher.

That is nearly a hundred more than the 350 non-fatal shootings in 2014 and 345 the year before that.

In his first day on the job, Riggs promised he won`t waste any time looking for ways to bring those numbers down.

“You’re going to see us over the next few days and weeks being much more aggressive,” said Riggs.

In the short term, Riggs wants more officers on the street and more community involvement. He also wants state lawmakers and city leaders to focus on ways to keep violent repeat offenders off the streets.

“We have to look at people re-entering society that have criminal charges and look at why they’re getting out so soon,” said Riggs. “Remember that 90 percent of people who commit homicides have been arrested by police before.”

Riggs though did caution everyone to remember that turning around the city’s violent crime problem may not happen overnight.

“What we need to do is stay focused, consistent and persistent as a police department, whether homicide rate in lower or higher, because we have to deal with long term issues and that’s when we’ll see long term success,” said Riggs.

Riggs previously worked the city’s public safety director under mayor Ballard, so he definitely brings a lot of experience to the table. Right now it’s not clear when he’ll have his formal swearing in ceremony.