INDIANAPOLIS — Rocked by two murders related to campus, an increase in robberies and burglaries of students and a general uptick in violent crime across the city, the University of Indianapolis has brought back former IMPD Chief and Public Safety Director Troy Riggs to analyze UIndy security and safety and take 90 days to propose enhancements for the university’s southeast side community.
“The general rise about public safety incidents in general made me think it’s time to consider this,” said UIndy President Robert Manuel. “We’ve always had conversations about public safety on campus. There has been a slight increase in deaths and things in the general area and the conversation with Troy is how do we collect all of those things and have a strategy that is consistent to the environment that we live in.”
“I think that we’ve always been aware because we live in an urban setting that crime exists around us. We know that if we’re going to be an urban institution in a city and our students are going to live in an urban setting that we need to be aware of our surroundings.”
U of I football player Koebe Clopton was found shot to death on the city’s northeast side in early September in an unsolved murder.
Dazmond Morgan was also found shot to death on a campus parking lot in October in what is also an unsolved killing.
“There has been a few unfortunate incidents that have occurred that have gotten news attention that have caused concern with our student body and also with our parents,” said Riggs, “but that is something that every city is dealing with across the country in major cities.”
Since Riggs’ departure as IMPD Chief in late 2016, some crime statistics have shown a gradual decline while violent crimes, non-fatal shootings and murders, have set record totals in Indianapolis.
“I was always concerned about the growth of violent crime,” said Riggs. “The rapidity at which it has been happening has been shocking.”
The university had recently spent $500,000 on enhanced public safety which Riggs said was born during the last week he’d spent on campus surveying the community and talking with students and neighbors.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve been walking at night. I’ve seen more lights than I’ve ever seen on campus. I’ve seen more interaction between the police department and students than I’d ever seen before.”
The University of Indianapolis has its own 18-member police force that is four officers short at the present time augmented by a dozen or more reserve officers.
“You’re going to see camera systems in place. There’s already a tremendous amount of cameras on campus. There’s going to be additional cameras. There’s going to be mobile cameras,” said Riggs who is considering integrating U of I’s surveillance cameras with IMPD’s B.LINK system. “You’re going to see more foot patrols by the police officers as well in this area and more interaction.”
Students who spoke off-camera told Fox 59 News that they have noticed stepped up security in recent weeks.
Riggs said he had spoken with IMPD commanders about the role UIndy can play in helping to secure the neighborhoods around the campus.
“How can we best mitigate for this area, not just UIndy,” he said. “It’s got to be the area surrounding UIndy and the southside of Indianapolis. How do we best work together with those business partners, those neighborhood associations, to insure that we’re working together to help IMPD deal with the rash of crime that we’re seeing.”
“We have to allow people to understand what is happening, share data, give them true information but also empower them to get involved. When people are empowered, their fear of crime reduces greatly.”
Riggs said he was encouraged to be back in Indianapolis after a career that led him to the role of public safety director in Denver followed by a foray into the private sector.
“People care about this city. People care about this institution. We’re gonna have some difficult times but what I know about Hoosier hospitality is that same group that welcomes people in will be the same group that will coalesce around an issue and they’ll find solutions to these problems. Our responsibility is to listen and to implement that here on the campus of UIndy.”
Riggs said he would return to Indianapolis after Thanksgiving to continue community conversations both on and off the UIndy campus before issuing his final report in January.
If you want to be part of that conversation, email your inquiry to Riggsdt@uindy.edu.