Indy’s “Public Safety Mayor” reflects on crime battle

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- When Joe Hogsett ran for election in the fall of 2015, he told the voters of Indianapolis he wanted to be known as the city’s “Public Safety Mayor.”

After Hogsett stood on the stage of the Hilbert Circle Theatre on January 1, 2016, and took the oath of office, he told attendees at his swearing-in ceremony about his greatest challenge he expected as mayor.

“The first is a crime epidemic that with each passing day spreads forth and becomes more violent.”

On January 4, 2016, Terry Williams became the first person murdered while Joe Hogsett was in office.

To this date, the murder epidemic the mayor referred to has claimed another 609 victims during Hogsett’s first term.

“It has been a challenge in many different ways because of the opioid epidemic,” said Hogsett. “It's been a challenge in many ways because we have too many guns on the street. It's been a challenge in many ways because too many young people illegally possess guns and it's been a challenge because we happen to live in a culture today where disputes oftentimes are resolved with gun violence."

“But we’re making progress.”

Hogsett said he sees that progress in hiring more officers and assigning them to walk neighborhood beats.

“The investments we’re making in community based and neighborhood oriented violence reduction, violence prevention, violence intervention, they’re paying dividends and I hope that at the end of the year we will be able to report that the number of homicides are going the right direction, down.”

A year ago on this date Indianapolis was on its way to setting another annual homicide record with 170 killings.

That number today is 165.

When he was sworn into office, Hogsett pledged to add another 150 officers to IMPD’s ranks, raising the department’s manpower to 1743.

Monday the mayor presided over a swearing in ceremony for 65 IMPD recruits.

“Four years ago when I first took office, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was an older department. There had been a couple of years where no officers had been hired and as a result we have been battling for four years to get a younger group of new officers in and I think in the course of four years we’ve hired well over 300 officers.”

Hogsett fell twelve officers short of his manpower goal which was challenged by the retirements of more veteran policemen and women than anticipated.

“We’re gonna continue to add more officers and continue our community based beat oriented policing approach, refine it where it needs to be refined, expand it where we can scale it up,” he said.

“We will continue to emphasize investments in technology. We will be talking about how to better protect our officers, the types of investment in equipment. We’ve had a pilot program on body cams this past year so upgrading technology to not only protect the safety and well-being of our population and residents but also the protection and safety of our officers.”

On January 3rd, two days after Hogsett is sworn in again, IMPD Chief Bryan Roach will retire after almost 29 years of service, the last three as leader of the department, sending the mayor on the search for his third police chief.

“I’m not going to be hasty about it because when you’re trying to find somebody to fill Bryan Roach’s shoes, that’s a very difficult decision to make and I want it to be right,” said the mayor.

“Now, I’m also sensitive to the fact that I don’t want to lose momentum, but I’m not above the possibility if we get to the end of the year and on Chief Roach’s retirement date naming an interim chief.”

Assistant Chief Randall Taylor indicated he has expressed interest in succeeding Roach.

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