INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — IMPD Chief Randal Taylor begins his first full week as the city’s top cop Monday morning.
Last week, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett named Taylor to succeed Bryan Roach, who retired after a career that covered three decades.
Taylor said Hogsett didn’t necessarily give him a mandate during his job interview last fall.
“He told me he wants me to be out in the public, which was great because I told him that’s exactly what I wanted to do, to be out here in the streets,” said Taylor in his first one-on-one television interview since becoming chief early Saturday morning. “I’ll be at all the different events, but some of what I’m gonna have to do is be out here in these alleyways and these side streets talking individually with some people to see exactly what’s going on and what can we do to help.”
We met Chief Taylor near the 3000 block of Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Street on the city’s northwest side, a community that has been rocked by violence in the last year.
“Crime has a way of moving where it wants to, and I don’t want it in this neighborhood, let alone any other neighborhood. But I think as a community, we’re gonna have to be open and honest with one another about what we’re willing to do, what we think should happen, hold people accountable, especially parents of youth that are committing crimes. We need to sit down and talk because that’s just not acceptable.”
Taylor said he would like to enhance common clearinghouses for referral information for youth before they slip into serious trouble and find a way to divert teens from the type of mayhem that has too often rocked downtown streets on Saturday nights.
Last year, 30 of the city’s homicide victims were under the age of 20 when they died of gunshot or stab wounds.
“I’ve had incredible conversation with families, not kids that are so much involved in the robberies, but the ones that are involved in the murders,” recalled Taylor, “and I’ve had moms that have told me they knew exactly what the kid was involved in, but he’s bringing in money. They didn’t have money in the past. They’re able to afford to pay for things: pay their bills, a little higher quality food, those types of things, and now that kid is gone. But of course its never worth it, but its tough hearing those type of conversations because you wonder, ‘How do you get to that point?’”
In 2019, for the first time since 2010, the city’s annual homicide total decreased on an annual basis to 171 cases.
IMPD homicide detectives cleared 54% of those cases, down from the 65% clearance rate of 2018.
“Clearance rates, they move around, they fluctuate with the years,” said Taylor. “Sometimes we get great information in that same year that crime occurred and we were able to clear it up right then. Sometimes that information is slower coming. Sometimes people aren’t willing to talk right away, but over a period of time, they do, and that can be over years, and you get that clearance later.”
In an effort to boost the clearance rate, Taylor said he is looking to add retired detectives to IMPD’s Cold Case Squad to investigate unsolved murders, and he’ll sit down with his top investigative commanders and Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears to develop a better strategy and understanding of what it will take to bring charges against more murder suspects in 2020.
Taylor said he also expects to continue talks with the Fraternal Order of Police on finalizing an IMPD pursuit policy and adding some civilian involvement in use of force investigations.
“I’m gonna be a man of my word,” said the chief. “I’m gonna be out here on the streets. I’m accessible. Got a great support team around me. We’re gonna make some things happen. I don’t know the time frame, but I think a lot of that is gonna depend on how willing the community is to be involved in it, to help us out where we can.”