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New Indianapolis police chief: ‘Last 4 years have been challenging’

New Indianapolis chief talks about priorities

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The new head of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department sat down for an interview with News 8 just a day after being appointed to the role by the city’s Democrat mayor.

The interview was brief and a certain number of questions were allowed. Appointed by Mayor Joe Hogsett, Chief Chris Bailey laid out his priorities for his first year at the department’s helm.

Bailey had spent months in the role as the interim chief.

He called on community involvement to help fight all forms of crime and said he has key ideas on other issues, too.

“The last four years have been challenging from a lot of fronts,” Bailey said. 

Bailey admits his work is cut out for him. The road ahead is paved with shaken relationships with the community, an increase in police shootings during interactions with suspects, and addressing teen violence.

Though Bailey touts a drop in overall violent crime and criminal homicides, the number of kids shot and killed in 2023 reached an all-time high. The city’s Office of Public Health and Safety will play a key role in slowing it, the police chief says. 

“We’ve been able to drive criminal homicides down 32%,” Bailey said. “Intervention needs to take place a lot earlier in our children’s lives than it does now. Hopelessness turns into ‘I don’t have much time to live, so I’m going to live my best life,’” he said of what law enforcement has learned, generally, about teen violence and the attitudes that pervaded their reasoning.

“That answer manifests itself in bad behavior.”

Former Chief Randal Taylor was called on to resign by city clergy after the sharp rise in police shootings. That, too, says Bailey, is a top priority, but with balance. 

“We have to do better at building bridges of trust in the community. Unfairly, too much has been put on the shoulders.”

“They’re expected to be perfect, in every single interaction, regardless of what the person they’re encountering is dealing with. That’s not fair to us and that’s not fair to our community.”

On pushing a further drop in violent crime, Bailey said, detectives will be “laser-focused on that small number of people, places, and behaviors responsible for violent crime and we’re going to hold them accountable.”

To help, the chief pointed to the appointment of two assistant chiefs whom he said will handle the more day-to-day, “operational”  work. He says those appointments will allow him to be free to handle bigger issues.

He also pointed to the use of technology to help with transparency, making information on police shootings and numbers on use of force available online.

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