Metro safety officials focus on boosting police morale

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Indianapolis public safety leaders announced new initiatives Friday in an effort to boost morale within the police department.

Police Chief Rick Hite and Public Safety Director Troy Riggs are trying to improve communication, recognition and staffing to create a more positive work environment for officers.

“We knew it was time for a change and moving in a new direction,” said Hite.

Riggs recently created ‘Efficiency Teams’ which investigate current practices and look for ways to make the department more efficient. The team working on morale came up with two new ideas which Riggs and Hite just signed off on.

The department will start honoring fallen heroes with plaques around the city, which cost $30 each. It’s also working on ways to open up communication especially with disgruntled officers.

“I think some of it was they just didn’t feel like they were being listened to,” said Riggs.

IMPD also has an efficiency team looking into its staffing and whether there are enough officers on the streets.

“I mean there’s not a police department in America that wouldn’t want additional police officers,” said Riggs. “However, we have a manageable situation right now. We are not in a crisis.”

Currently, there are about 1,576 officers employed by the department. The last recruit class graduated 17 officers in 2012, but there is no clear date for the next class.

The efficiency team is expected to report its findings in June. Riggs said he cannot have a conversation about adding more officers to the force until then.

While both Riggs and Hite said they are following a “do more with less” attitude, both believe the department can’t accomplish much without good morale and that it is a priority.

“We need to work with our police officers and let them know that’s their responsibility as well- to build morale and to build respect and camaraderie that has existed in police departments throughout the nation for years,” said Riggs.

Hite added that it can also start with the small actions. “Spend time with our people and say thank you. Just a simple thank you.”

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