IMPD making changes to more aggressively pursue drug dealers

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Violent shootings are up this year in Indianapolis, but IMPD Chief Troy Rigss hopes his new plan rolling out this week will put a stop to that trend.

The strategy involves putting more drug dealers behind bars, since IMPD detectives believe a majority of shootings, especially non-fatal shootings in Indianapolis are drug-related.

“We know that the leading cause of homicides and non-fatal shootings are narcotics complaints that unfortunately right now and in the past have gone uninvestigated,” said Riggs.

Which is why, in the war against drugs, IMPD is changing its battle strategy.

Currently, the centralized narcotics team struggles with resources and not having enough officers and detectives to send out to investigate cases.

“Right now, in the city, if you have complaint about narcotics and you call the district commander, he or she doesn’t have the resources to put a narcotics team on the street to look into that,” said Riggs.

When they did handle complaints, Assistant Chief James Waters says there was too much red tape involved.

“Previously, complaints were directed through commanders who were assigned to the patrol division,” Waters said. “Then those complaints had to go over to the investigations division, delaying the response time.”

To speed things up, IMPD’s narcotics officers are breaking back up into district teams, responsible for smaller areas. They’ve already begun training spearheaded by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office.

IMPD is also combining the role of its vice and narcotics officers and detectives. Both divisions have been combined, so rather than having a vice officer and a narcotics officer, officers on the new team will be able to do both.

This will allow more officers to stay on the street, which IMPD leaders hope more officers will lead to bigger drug busts. Making more street corners safe, they say, will help earn the trust of communities underserved by the old system.

“Hopefully that will help build or strengthen the relationship we have with the community by demonstrating that we do care, we are concerned and in fact, this is what we’re doing about your concerns,” Waters said.

The new team begins work under the new structure this weekend and Waters thinks the impact will be felt within 30 days.

In fact, he feels confident the people he’s spoken with at recent monthly community meetings will have positive feedback by the time he sees them again in June.

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