INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- In front of a group of Indianapolis ministers sadly accustomed to buying too many of their young people who have fallen victim to gun violence, John Gregg, Democrat for Governor, admitted he is still in his “listening and learning” phase when it comes to combatting crime.
Gregg told the Indianapolis Baptist Ministerial Alliance he will release his public safety plan within two weeks.
The candidate’s appearance came days after his main opponent, Governor Mike Pence, dropped out to run for vice president on the Donald Trump ticket and three republicans jumped in to fill the GOP void and Americans are reeling from a pair of shooting that left eight police officers dead from Dallas to Baton Rouge.
The ministers asked Gregg for his views on racial profiling, jobs for felons, criminal justice reform and submitting police action shooting investigations to outside agencies.
Gregg agreed treatment for substance abuse addicts and employing parolees was key while he failed to take a stand on fatal police shooting probes and racial profiling.
The candidate said that the issue of racial profiling was made personally aware to him when he understood that an African American aide would not exceed the speed limit while driving to campaign appearances for fear of being pulled over by police.
“We seem to be a society that…I don’t know what the word is…but rather than talking about solutions, we all just want to point fingers and I think we need to sit down and talk how we can have a dialog on all kinds of issues,” Gregg told reporters afterward.
Last Friday IMPD southwest district narcotics detectives conducted a raid on a house that contained ten people, multiple guns, a stolen assault-style rifle, another long gun, tens of thousands of dollars in cash and heroin and methamphetamine.
Acting off a tip, investigators feared the gunmen were intent on launching a mass attack this past weekend.
Gregg said later this week he will meet with Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett who deals with the issue of violent crime in the state’s largest city every day.
“That was a tip that was called in about suspicious activity at a house in a neighborhood,” Mayor Joe Hogsett told CBS4. “We’re all in this together and frankly our community is every bit essential to peace in the streets and law enforcement doing an effective job as every one of our officers is.”
In refusing to take a position on racial profiling or police action shooting investigations, Gregg was mindful of his upcoming appearance before the Indiana State Police Alliance to court that group’s endorsement.
The candidate was also careful not to contradict the powerful National Rifle Association when asked what it will take to remove guns from the streets of Indianapolis.
“For the life of me I don’t understand why we want to allow people that are convicted felons and people that have mental health issues and are on the terrorist watch list, why we want to allow those people to have guns,” said Gregg.
The NRA recently opposed federal legislation to keep guns out of the hands of persons on Washington’s terrorist watch list.
“I’m a responsible gun owner and, for the life of me, why you would want to let someone who we don’t want to get on an airplane buy a gun?” Gregg asked. “I think we need some common sense.”
Gregg refused to explain what he meant by “common sense” gun laws or whether he would lead the way as governor in curbing the proliferation of firearms in Indiana.
“As you know, most of the gun control takes place at the federal level rather than the state level. If you look at everything, common sense solutions to the gun problem and the gun violence is what we’re about.”
Hogsett has also distanced himself from any local ordinance attempts to curb guns and their presence in Indianapolis though he said progress on police and criminal justice reforms have been undertaken.
“We are ahead of the curve in many respects,” said the former federal prosecutor, “and we’ve got plans in place to not only crackdown on people who need to be held accountable for violating the law.
“I think we are going to engage in outreach to the community so that we can assess what they believe needs to occur to improve community and police relations and as you know, we’ve already started that process several months ago with things like greater recruitment so that our police force represents more accurately the demography of our city. We’ve begun a community based neighborhood oriented beat jurisdictional policing program that I think will go a long way toward improving community and police relationships.
“I want the country to look to Indianapolis in their grief and in their mourning as a place where we have things that need to be mimicked by police departments around the country. That would be my ultimate goal.”
With Pence’s departure from the race for governor, Gregg is the frontrunner when it comes to financing and organization as Congressman Todd Rokita, Congresswoman Susan Brooks and sitting Lieutenant Governor Eric Holcomb announced their republican candidacies.
“I don’t know who I’m running against but I think that just focuses that I’ve wanted to serve as governor, not be governor, there’s a great distinction,” said Gregg. “I’ve always said that and we continue to focus to see on bringing Hoosiers together and have better jobs. I mean that’s what this is about.”
Gregg sees no difference among his GOP opponents or the man they will replace on the November ballot.
“They’re all very similar to Governor Pence,” he said. “They’re almost clones of Governor Pence when it comes to jobs and public education and infrastructure and we think Hoosiers will see that difference.”