INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett joined pastors and choirs and congregants at Olivet Baptist Church on New Year’s morning to celebrate something that happened 155 years ago: the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, an executive order by President Abraham Lincoln to free enslaved people in the southern United States.
But it was something that happened two years ago on New Year’s Day 2016, the date of his swearing in as mayor, that had Hogsett considering what type of grade he would give himself at his mid-term in office.
“I think that the grade is maybe a C+, B-,” said the mayor. “I wish things would happen faster than they do. I wish that we would have been able to add more officers quicker than we have been. I wish their training would go fast so we could get them out on the streets in a much quicker way, but at the end of the day, I think we’re making progress. I wouldn’t want to give myself an A, you cannot give yourself a high grade whenever the number of criminal homicides still remains unacceptable, but I do think that a solid C+, B- is a good fair grade for the kind of progress that we’re making.”
As the mayor spoke, IMPD was closing its books on the 2017 criminal homicide tally which topped out at 154, five more killings than the year before.
At one point during the first two years of his administration, Hogsett anticipated the murder total, which shot up dramatically beginning in 2011 as IMPD’s ranks shrank due to budget shortfall, to decrease.
Now the mayor hopes the city has reached a turning point in the battle against violence.
“I think I can see the corner coming up. I wouldn’t say it goes so far yet that we’re on the back stretch but I do think that progress is being made.
“The overall percentage of criminal homicides increasing is now static at about two to three percent so if we can at least be able to say, we are starting to slow the process down and one need look no further than 2012 2013 2014 when the city was experiencing anywhere from 15-30% increases in criminal homicides in one year…I’m not saying an increase of two or three percent over the last couple of years is solving the problem but I do think it is an indication that much of what we are doing is starting to have an effect and at the end of the day I hope that 2018 will be better than 2016 and 2017.”
Hogsett expects redrawn IMPD policing beats to bring more stability to neighborhoods while residents will be asked to become more invested in their own community safety.
“I think I should be held accountable on any benchmark. The most obvious is what the number of criminal homicides that the city experienced in any one particular year,” said Hogsett. “One should be judged by the incidents of aggravated assaults, whether those have gone up or down, incidents of robbery or burglary, other crimes of violence, just the number of gun related domestic issues that unfortunately permeate the city.
“The benchmark for next year will be not only what the statistics seem to suggest but what the community is actually experiencing.”
Hogsett points to a balanced city budget, the influx of high-tech jobs, planned improvements to infrastructure and summer employment for youth as success stories from the first two years of his administration.
Pastors at the celebration presented Hogsett with a watch to honor his participation in the annual service.
The mayor said he will decide by the end of the year whether to seek reelection based on the progress that’s been made and the challenges he would face in a second term.