Indy’s next chief of police discusses crime approach with national crowd

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec 9, 2015)-- Troy Riggs mounted the stage in the Lilly Auditorium at the University Library on the IUPUI campus and told his audience a funny thing happened to him on the way to his presentation.

He was named the next police chief of Indianapolis.

Twenty-four hours after Mayor-Elect Joe Hogsett announced that Riggs would take over control of IMPD, and five months after he resigned from the administration of Mayor Greg Ballard, an auditorium that included academics, community leaders, a prosecutor, a public safety director and a state senator heard how data-driven policing will seek to not only cut down crime but attack its root causes in Indianapolis.

“This is a very novel approach but one that could be very effective and you just gotta give it time to succeed,” said FBI Special Agent Jay Abbott.

Riggs launched this strategy when he served as Indianapolis Director of Public Safety, but stepped away this past summer to take over the post of Director of Public Safety Outreach at IUPUI’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.

The plan utilizes policing data to target offenders in the city’s toughest areas while calling on other agencies to address the root causes of crime such as hunger, poverty and joblessness.

Riggs admitted that his all-encompassing strategy won’t bear fruit immediately, and the last violent half-year in the city prove that.

“It has been an extremely violent six months,” he said to an audience that stretched from Texas to Vancouver, Canada, “and there are a lot of reasons for that. There’s not just one reason. It's been a violent six months. We went from 42 homicides in the first six months of the year to 95 homicides in the last six months.”

While 69 percent of the city’s criminal homicides occurred in the last six months, 62 percent of its non-fatal shootings happened during the same stretch of year.

During Tuesday’s announcement, with his new boss at his side, Riggs said IMPD would target select criminals and neighborhoods for enforcement and not take a dragnet approach to rounding up large numbers of petty offenders.

While Hogsett is in Boston at a conference on governing for new mayors, one of his top aides attended Riggs’ presentation, which featured philosophies and tactics the incoming chief and mayor discussed prior to the appointment.

It was also announced that SPEA would sponsor a series on national forums on best policing practices and that Riggs would be the director of those talks.

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