IN Focus: Hogsett names new public safety team

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 8, 2015) -- Claiming that, “Indianapolis is enduring a public safety crisis,” Mayor-Elect Joe Hogsett reached back into the Ballard Administration’s recent history to pick his next chief to lead the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

“On January 1, 2016, in my very first act as mayor of the city of Indianapolis, I will appoint Troy Riggs as chief of the Indianapolis Police Department.”

Hogsett said Ernest Malone will continue in his role as chief of the Indianapolis Fire Department.

Riggs arrived in Indianapolis in October of 2012 to take over as public safety director of a department and city rocked by turmoil, poor morale, budget red ink and mission confusion.

Riggs stepped down in June to take a position with the IU Public Policy Institute. He said Hogsett's offer to become chief of IMPD came as a surprise to him. During a news conference Tuesday, Riggs outlined three priorities for fighting crime in Indianapolis:  reducing crime, reducing fear of crime and enhancing public safety.

In the video above, Riggs speaks with FOX59's Fanchon Stinger about his new role as chief, along with comments from current chief Rick Hite and the IN focus panel.

"I will commit to you that your police department is going to be open, it's going to be transparent," Riggs said Tuesday.

Riggs noted that Indianapolis’ murder tally is already outpacing last year’s shocking total with 92 criminal homicides recorded in the last six months which coincided with his own departure from the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard to take over as Director of Public Safety Outreach at the IU Public Policy Institute at IUPUI.

“We’re going to be very aggressive,” said Riggs about his plans once Hogsett is sworn into office on New Year’s Day. “We’re going to be aggressive about going after those who are causing violence in the community and not going out and making mass arrests. We’re not about making quantity arrests. We’re about making quality arrests so people will see instant enforcement practices taking place but they’ll also know that they are very thorough and they have been vetted properly as well.”

Community leaders are confident that Riggs will transition smoothly into the position due to his familiarity with the community and the relationships that he's already formed.

"If he focuses on taking care of his officers and making sure that his department is well served, then our community will be well served," said Rick Snyder, president of the FOP Lodge 86.

"Troy is going to be the kind of police chief who continues building those kind of relationships that Chief Hite built," said Rev. Charles Harrison.

As Hogsett was introducing Riggs as the next chief of IMPD, current Chief Rick Hite announced he was stepping down, effective Dec. 31, 2015.  Riggs' appointment begins Jan. 1, 2016.

"After much consideration and consultation with loved ones, I have decided to step down as Chief of IMPD," Hite said in a statement.  "I have enjoyed my tenure as Chief and thank all the dedicated employees of the department for their dedication and commitment to making this city safe."

After Riggs was appointed, Hogsett made it clear that safety was his number one priority.  Rev. Harrison was part of the committee that selected Riggs as public safety director in 2012.

"I think most of the black community is open minded and will be accepting of Troy Riggs because he has built his own relationships," said Harrison.

"The challenge is making the transition from being a reactionary police force to a more proactive one--and we will be able to do that as we bring additional officers and resources to the department," said Snyder.

Hogsett said Hite had served the city well, and said a new administration means there will inevitably be change.

Hogsett also announced a major shift in the city’s public safety chain of command. Effective January 1, Chiefs Malone and Riggs will both report directly to the mayor, rather than to a Public Safety Director.

The two chiefs will work together to assess the organization and operations of the Department of Public Safety.

"I want to make it clear: public safety is the priority of the city of Indianapolis," Hogsett said. The appointments of Malone and Riggs will give him leaders that know their departments intimately and can help him get his bearings as mayor, Hogsett told reporters.

"You can't be serious about rebuilding neighborhoods if people in those neighborhoods feel unsafe or their children or grandchildren feel unsafe," Hogsett said.

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