INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (May 10, 2016) -- IMPD Chief Riggs says there are many young people in Indianapolis need better examples for how to settle disputes, without drawing guns.
Riggs says his detectives are coming across younger teens who believe guns are a necessary part of their lives.
“In a lot of our investigations here recently, we’ve been seeing kids as young as 14 with semi-automatic handguns,” Riggs says. “They’re posing with those, thinking they’re cool, carrying those with them, especially when they’re out of school, sometimes when they’re still in school.”
He believes too many children in Indianapolis believe guns are a way to solve problems. He says they’ve grown up living in communities where bad examples are set for how to solve problems.
They may be in homes with, or live down the street from, adults who use guns to settle grudges.
Chief Riggs says some of the kids don’t have supervision or much to do, a problem he thinks the mayor’s “summer jobs plan” will help address.
He says community partnerships between IMPD and Gleaner’s Food Bank and other organizations will also give the kids access to much-needed resources, including food.
Riggs also stressed the importance of community policing. By building better relationships with these kids and the adults in their lives, many of the children may not feel the need to pick up a gun in the first place.
Riggs says he’s working with his officers to make sure they have all the tools they need to implement the new policing strategy effectively. For some of the officers, the only mode of operation they know is rushing from run to run.
"Some of them said they have never patrolled small areas,” Riggs says. “They have never been able to really engage in community type policing, so we’ve been giving a lot of training, we’ve been encouraging them, we’re going to set some goals and objectives to showcase how they can go out and work with the community. "
Riggs says the neighborhoods kids grow up in can also be improved if they can reduce the cycle of violence. One way, he says, is by ending the practice of giving shooting victims a "free pass" by signing forms of non-cooperation.
Data shows the city's non-fatal shootings are on the rise. Riggs says in half of those cases, the people who were shot refuse to talk to police.
Chief Riggs says detectives believe many of the shootings are drug-related and the victims don’t want to implicate themselves in illegal activity.
Instead, they stay quiet while a shooter roams free. Riggs says the gunmen are more likely to kill someone the next time.
“If someone shot them, we have a person in the city that isn’t being held accountable,” Riggs says. “That doesn’t mind to use a weapon to settle a grudge. Even if they’re just shooting them in their lower extremities to get away with their money, sooner or later, they’re going to kill someone and we need to put a stop to that.”
Riggs is placing four more officers in the “aggravated assault” unit to investigate shootings more thoroughly. They’ll check victims’ backgrounds, make arrests on prior warrants and put more pressure on the victims to give up information on the gunmen.