INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — After three Baton Rouge police officers were murdered and just as many wounded by a doomed gunman Sunday, Metro Police Chief Troy Riggs asked the citizens of Indianapolis to help protect the lives of his policemen and women while stepping up their ambush awareness and officer personal safety training.
“We have sent out a one hour course on ambush awareness and preparation,” he said. “I have also sent out a couple memos reminding officers about safety of their family and having a plan in the event of an issue at your home in light of what happened to one of our officers.”
A gunman fired on the house of an IMPD officer early Tuesday morning.
As Riggs displayed two bulletins that contained information about threats to officers’ lives, he said the warnings and training were not restricted to sworn personnel.
“We have taken the time to train nine of our officers in what is called the Alert Civilian Response to Active Shooter,” a course intended to teach civilians how to respond to an active shooter in the work place or public, “and we will begin teaching that curriculum in the near future.”
The chief said his intelligence and data analysts were investigating at least one credible threat against the lives of police officers that was posted on social media.
“I’ve been doing this for thirty years and I can tell you that officers get threatened a lot of times,” said Riggs, “but I’ve never seen in thirty years the level of violence towards officers and the amount of people who have condoned violence towards officers. That cannot be tolerated.”
Riggs asked citizens to call Crimestoppers at 262-TIPS or log on to crimetips.org or email him directly at email@example.com if they become aware of any threats in person or on social media.
“We’re very pleased here in Indianapolis, however, that many of the individuals in the community are stepping up and supporting the police department, work hand-in-hand with us each and every day,” he said. “When an officer is attacked in the city not only is that officer attacked, but the citizens that he or she serves are attacked as well.”
Riggs’ call for citizen protection of his officers would seem to resonate with community leaders who were on board with peaceful coexistence between city residents and IMPD before the latest bloodshed.
The Indiana Black Expo Summer Celebration concluded Sunday after a week of family and community events that culminated with a peaceful Saturday night downtown that observers and police say was the most sedate ever.
Rev. David Hampton, deputy mayor in the Joe Hogsett administration, moderated an IBE discussion this weekend on issues facing the city’s African American community and said Indianapolis is unique in its approach to those who feel left behind in society or have grievances with law enforcement.
“We have a police department that is willing to sit down and engage the community so we want to continue the great work that has already been done with police-community relations and I’m proud of my city for that,” said Hampton. “The issue of race isn’t just a black and white problem. It’s a human problem and it’s also a human solution, so when we work together, we can reach that solution.”
After a successful and peaceful Black Lives Matter march through downtown Indianapolis one week ago when participants publicly thanked and applauded IMPD protection and cooperation along the procession route, a man wearing a BLM t-shirt with no apparent ties to the movement fired on an officer’s house and car early Tuesday morning.
“We want officers to be safe and it’s a great tragedy what has happened,” said Rev. David Greene, president of the Concerned Clergy who received a briefing by a top IMPD commander hours after the shooting and capture of the suspect. “Unfortunately sometimes you get a negative event and people try to read more into it. It creates greater division versus the focus on the good news and the positive stuff that is happening in our communities.”
Veteran activist Muhammad Siddeeq said the shooting was a betrayal of the peaceful aims of the movement and the hard work community leaders do every day bridging the gap between residents and the police department.
“We have issues that we have to take a look at and try to correct but we want to do it in a civil and intelligent and rational way so that we can save our city and not tear it apart,” said Siddeeq.
“We have to stand up together,” said Greene. “This is not a situation just in Indianapolis but across the country as far as all of us working together. The police department can’t fix everything by themselves.
“I applaud the police department as far as doing wrap around services and that’s where the community comes in, that’s where our leaders and our city we all have to step to the plate and do our part.
“All of us are in this thing together.”