INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- With each police shooting death and consequent protests, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s Chief Troy Riggs is learning what to do and not to do if something similar happens in Indianapolis.
Of course, Indy’s top cop would prefer if he could prevent the powder keg from being sparked here.
Over the last year, America has seen years, even decades, of frustration hit the boiling point in Charlotte, Baltimore, Chicago and Ferguson to name a few.
Anger and frustration has been widespread, with increased controversy as athletes protest the deaths and systemic racism and oppression by kneeling during the national anthem.
Riggs says he knows there are others in Indy who feel the same way, which is why he’s watching Charlotte and Tulsa very carefully.
“We watch intently to see what protesters are saying, to see what the police department did and how they responded, what they did well, what they didn’t do so well,” said Riggs. “We try to learn from that.”
Riggs also understands that when it comes to protests, there’s always someone who wants to cause trouble and they can be difficult to stop.
“Here in Indianapolis we have good relationships, but remember, it only takes a few people to cause these issues, for these things to become violent,” said Riggs.
For the chief, the key to ensuring calm for residents peacefully protesting, is making sure people trust his department if an officer does shoot and kill someone.
To do that, he says they’re working to build strong relationships before something happens.
“We put officers there to start day by day meeting people and building trust,” said Riggs. “When we see something that could be controversial, we’re calling leadership in these communities and saying, ‘Can we meet with you and talk to you about what we’re seeing right now? You are invited to come to the scene. You’re invited to ask any questions that you may have and we’re an open book.’ We’re going to be transparent.”
Transparency, Riggs believes, is one of the most important factors in maintaining calm after a tragedy.
He says people will only trust his department if they feel the door is always open, in good times and in bad.
“If you have a question regarding operations of your police department, you have a right to know what we’re doing and I have a responsibility as chief to make sure you get the information that’s accurate,” said Riggs.