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INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Mayor Joe Hogsett stood inside the Washington Park Family Center surrounded by officers from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

During a 30 minute news conference Hogsett and IMPD Chief Troy Riggs talked about the importance of community involvement in providing a safer community.

Riggs touted IMPD’s foot patrol beats where officers get to know the residents, churches, and businesses they serve.

IMPD recently placed drug investigators in all of the city’s six districts. The department also added flex teams, or a specialized group of officers that respond to criminal trends in the city.

Riggs told a roomful of community leaders and reporters that his goal is for his beat officers to know the residents, business owners, and churches in their community by the end of the year.

Hogsett echoed those statements.

“It is my hope ultimately, I speak for every officer in those areas where we have beat policing, that someone who encounters a problem will pick up the phone and call their friend, who just happens to be an IMPD officer,” said Hogsett.

IMPD is currently working on several investigations, in some cases residents tipped officers off to the problems.

At this time, the department was not willing to disclose the cases because investigations are still open.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Heroin and criminal activity go hand-in-hand, and it’s a regular battle for police departments across Indiana.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is no exception.

IMPD Chief Troy Riggs joined Daybreak Thursday morning to discuss how the department is working to battle heroin on the streets.

Riggs said beating heroin will require a team effort from the community.

Press play in the video player for the full interview.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – When it comes to battling crime in one of Indy’s most troubled areas, Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Officer Cory Heiny is on the frontlines.

Part of his zone includes 42nd Street and Post Road, one of six troubled neighborhoods the Department of Public Safety deemed “focus areas” late last year.

When it comes to turning things around, Heiny said one of his biggest challenges is getting people to get involved.

“Getting cooperation from people is hard,” he said.

Others say the challenge can be getting neighbors to get involved in general. It’s an issue Department of Public Safety Director Troy Riggs spoke about with I-Team 8.

“If you live in a healthy neighborhood, if you have a couple of break-ins in your neighborhood, Chief Hite’s phone is ringing off the hook. They want to meet him, they want to talk about what we’re going to do to deal with that,” said Riggs. “In some of these areas, we’ve had a couple of homicides over a weekend and no one ever calls. We have to have a sense of pride and community and to do that people have to feel safe and feel like we care about them as a community. We’ve said we need to do more.”

Heiny says part of the solution comes down to building relationships between police and the people they serve and protect.

“It’s a lot of trust-building,” said Heiny. “I get to know them, I talk to them. We are here to help and you. Work with me with the problem. I can work on the solution.”

Heiny said he spends a good part of his shift driving through apartment complexes, windows rolled down.

According to the Department of Public Safety, the solution also involves community partnerships. Tuesday, DPS announced at least 30 organizations have committed to investing in the focus areas to help turn things around. They include one group that will partner with local churches to provide summer youth activities. Another will coach and mentor residents. Another has committed to purchasing and rehabilitating vacant homes.

Tuesday, public safety leaders announced the second phase of their plan to turn around the city’s six focus areas.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The second phase of a plan to turn around some of Indianapolis’ most troubled neighborhoods is now underway. New data released by the city Tuesday paints clearer picture of just how much work lies ahead.

The six neighborhoods are deemed as “focus areas” by Indianapolis’ Department of Public Safety. Crime data identified those areas as neighborhoods surrounding the following intersections:

An I-Team 8 analysis last week found reports of crimes on the rise in at least four of them. DPS believes there is a reason behind increases in reported crimes in some of those neighborhoods, and new data released Tuesday may help explain why.

According to comparisons compiled by the city, the six focus neighborhoods, totaling just eight square miles, make up just five percent of Indianapolis’ total population. Yet, they accounted for 27 percent of the city’s homicides last year.

They also accounted for 30 percent of the city’s non-fatal shootings,13 percent of EMS overdose runs and 14 percent of all EMS mental health calls.

Those figures stand in sharp contrast to what would likely have made news headlines for DPS this year:

Citywide, criminal homicides are down by 35 percent so far in 2015, when compared with the same time period on 2014. Other crimes are also down, citywide, from year to year, according to DPS data released Tuesday:

But, the numbers are trending the other direction in the six focus areas, DPS said Tuesday.

Homicides increased in those neighborhoods from seven in the first quarter of 2014 to nine in the first quarter of 2015. Non-fatal shootings also increased during that time from 22 in 2014 to 24 in 2015, according to DPS data.

Perhaps more troubling, DPS Director Troy Riggs said, is that a majority of people arrested in the six focus areas are not residents there. Percentages range from 17 percent residential arrests in the 34th Street/Illinois Street corridor to 43 percent residential arrests in the 16th Street/Tibbs Avenue and New York Street/Sherman Drive corridors.

The data is troubling, DPS Director Troy Riggs said Tuesday. But, it’s not unexpected.

“That’s why I said early on that some of these areas can worsen before they get better,” Riggs said. “That’s why we’re in these areas. There’s no quick fixes in these areas. And, we have to be honest about that.”

But, Riggs also said Tuesday that an increase in crime reports alone may not necessarily be a negative development, because it could mean that residents in the troubled neighborhoods may finally feel comfortable enough to report crimes when they happen. That could drive up numbers.

Crime data suggests as many as 30 to 50 percent of non-violent, property crimes in Marion County may go unreported each year, Riggs has previously said.

“We’re seeing some signs that people are increasing their activity in reporting through our Crime Stoppers numbers. We need them to take the next step and actually report the crime,” Riggs said.

At least 1,062 anonymous tips have been made to Crime Stoppers so far in 2015, an increase of 30 percent of the same time period in 2014, DPS data showed.

One bright spot in Tuesday’s data involved fire fatalities in the focus areas, which dropped from 10 during the first quarter of 2014 to 0 in the first quarter of 2015. Only one fire related death has been reported citywide so far in 2015, down from 18 at this time in 2014, according to DPS data.

Riggs credited that sharp decrease, in part, to a smoke detector blitz put on by the Indianapolis Fire Department that he said has helped save at least five lives so far in 2015.

But, much work remains in Phase Two of the focus area project, Riggs said, including priority projects like identifying at least 100 of the highest risk prison parolees or other convicted criminals re-entering the focus neighborhoods. IEMS will also be focused on better identification of underlying mental health issues, particularly on drug overdose calls.

“If we can find a way to connect with them, primarily through social workers, through Midtown Mental Health and (others), that’s the key,” said IEMS Director Dr. Charles Miramonti.

“We’re investing a lot of money, time, effort and talent in these areas, because we want to support residents and we believe they deserve better,” said Riggs.

That investment now involves at least 30 different city partners, from faith based ministries to community centers, hospitals and even Indianapolis Animal Care and Control.

But, even with their added involvement, which Riggs was quick to praise Tuesday, he again cautioned that turning the troubled neighborhoods around could take a year or even longer.

“When an officer makes an arrest, that’s usually because of a lot of things that have gone wrong in someone’s life,” he said. “It’s needed at times, we understand that. But, we’re trying to look at those root causes and deal with those. Those are generational. With decades of momentum, you don’t stop them overnight.”

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Rick Hite spent more than 30 years with the Baltimore Police Department.

During his time there he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. Recently, there has been rioting in Baltimore after a man died while in police custody.

Hite released a statement in wake of the Baltimore riots.

In difficult times like these, it is not uncommon to hear threats made nationwide. Be assured the IMPD, along with our federal, state, and local law enforcement partners, are monitoring any and all threats. As always, we will continue to dialogue and collaborate with the Indianapolis community to maintain our peaceful relationships and keep our city safe.

Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs expressed concern for Baltimore. He added that Baltimore has some of the same issues that Indianapolis is facing.

However, two years ago Indianapolis changed the complaint system against officers that has sped up the process.

In the past it took at least 8 months to address complaints against officers, that process is done in less than five months.

“We get calls from other cities asking how did you revamp the disciplinary process we want a system that is fair and gives good feedback to citizens,” said Riggs.

Some police officers welcomed the changes in the complaint process because it clears up fake accusations.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A new project designed to help fight back against crime has taken shape in neighborhoods across the Circle City. But, an I-Team 8 analysis suggests the crime confrontation effort behind it may be falling short so far in areas where it’s needed most.

The initiative was announced last October by Indianapolis’ Department of Public Safety, dubbed as a “holistic approach to crime reduction.” The program is intended to bring together community organizations and city agencies, including IMPD, the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and Marion County Sheriff’s Office to create an action plan to reduce criminal activity in six focus neighborhoods, labeled as some of the city’s “most challenged areas.

Crime data identified those areas as neighborhoods surrounding the following intersections:

The program’s success would hinge on its ability to address “decades-old societal failure surrounding social issues,” Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard said in announcing the initiative in October. Its focus would be on root causes of crime in each neighborhood, from vacant housing and poverty to lack of education and mental illness. And, it would begin with the formation of ‘community engagement teams’ charged with assessing needs in each area and formulating a plan to turn the tide.DANGER ZONES

“I don’t feel safe walking by myself”

As the final bell of the day rang outside IPS School 90 on a warm spring day, 8-year-old James Hendrix couldn’t wait to head home. But he knew he had to wait for his dad Earl to walk with him, even though he can see his house from the school’s front door less than one block away.

“I don’t (trust him to be able to walk that block), nope,” Hendrix told I-Team 8. “Not in this neighborhood.”

For the last six years, the Hendrix family has lived just half a block from 16th Street and Tibbs Avenue, one of the six high crime focus areas identified late last year. Its label came as no surprise to them.

Hendrix says he was robbed just outside his home late last year. His next door neighbors told I-Team 8 their home had been robbed three times in the last two years. Police reports show his neighbors across the street were robbed last summer too.

Even in broad daylight, Hendrix won’t let his wife walk the half block to her job at a nearby CVS Pharmacy alone.

“I don’t feel safe walking by myself,” said Andrea Land-Werlen, standing with her son by her side. “Even just to the corner, four doors down. I do not feel safe. I sure don’t.”

They are the same problems putting a stranglehold on the near northwest side area surrounding Rev. Charles Harrison’s church, near 29th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

During a recent walk through the neighborhood with I-Team 8, the Ten Point Coalition leader pointed to eight vacant homes on a single block. He says every one of them has been used at some point as a drug house.


“A lot of people don’t see much of a future for themselves and for this area”

“What you see out here is blight,” Harrison told I-Team 8. “What you see is a lot of hopelessness out here. And, a lot of people don’t see much of a future for themselves and for this area.”FIGHTING BACK

DPS’s new plan to turn the tide hinges on community partnerships with organizations like the Ten Point Coalition and another church collective known as City Mosaic. These community partners are tasked with helping IMPD focus on the root causes of crime – things like unemployment, vacant houses and mental health.

“There’s a lot of high unemployment, particularly among African American males. There’s a lot of young people that are not in school that should be in school. And, there’s a lot of abandoned, boarded up homes in all these areas, increasing every year. That’s what we’re battling,” Harrison said.

The project is intended to be driven by data. So, I-Team 8 dug into the numbers to see how it’s worked.‘GETTING WORSE’


Overall Crime Stats by Intersection 2014 vs 2015

Sources: IMPD Police Reports and DPS Crime Maps

To assess the impact the crime confrontation project has had so far, I-Team 8 compiled traditional police reports, pulled and logged manually, and new crime mapping software implemented by IMPD late last year. Our analysis included data on all crimes reported within a 1 mile radius of each of the six focus area intersections during the months of January, February and March. Data was pulled for the first quarter of 2014 – before the project launched – and for the same time period in 2015, after launch.

Using that data, I-Team 8 found reports of crime increased in three of the six neighborhoods so far in 2015 when compared with the same time period in 2014. Overall crime report increases ranged from 10 percent to 37 percent during that time period at 34th and Illinois streets; 16th Street and Tibbs Avenue; and 29th Street and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard.

A fourth neighborhood – 42nd Street and Post Road – saw almost no change year to year, according to I-Team 8’s analysis.

Two neighborhoods – 16th/Tibbs and 29th/Martin Luther King – also saw increases in reports of both violent and property crimes, year to year, according to I-Team 8’s analysis. That data also showed drug-related arrests dipped slightly from year to year in all six focus areas. However, I-Team 8’s analysis only included 2014 drug crimes classified as narcotics investigations. Drug crime totals that year did not include crimes involving suspected narcotics that were primarily identified in another category.


Crime Reports One Mile from Key Intersections

Source: IMPD Police Reports (Jan. 1, 2015 – March 31, 2015)

“You can’t change decades of momentum overnight”

Additional non-violent, non-property crimes, such as prostitution, are included in the totals for both years, but not specifically separated in the data that appears below.

I-Team 8 shared its findings with Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs, who said the numbers were not surprising.

“Quite frankly in some areas things are getting worse,” Riggs said, looking at the analysis. “And, we knew that. That’s why we’re there. We’ve said you can’t change decades of momentum overnight.”TURNING THE TIDE


Type of Crime by Intersection

2014 vs 2015

Sources: IMPD Police Reports and DPS Crime Maps

But, momentum does appear to have shifted in other areas.

I-Team 8’s analysis found overall crime down by 22 percent year to year in the neighborhoods near New York Street and Sherman Drive and down by 32 percent in the neighborhoods near 38th Street and Sherman Drive. Both remain notorious “trouble spots” for IMPD, but it’s clear progress has been made there.

Riggs attributes the gains to one thing.

“We have seen huge growth in community involvement,” he said. “We are hearing from an outstanding group of people that say they want to be the solution to the problems in these areas. We don’t have as many as we want. We don’t have as many as we need. Our goal is for that to be the beginning process. And, what we’d like to see at the end of this somewhere down the road is that the systemic issues have been addressed and these neighborhoods are holding us accountable in public safety.”

The partnerships began with organizations like Harrison’s Ten Point Coalition. They’ve continued with groups like Shepherd Community Center and City Mosaic on the near east side.

Together, the groups are working to create a new kind of neighborhood unity by recruiting “responsible residents” willing to take a stand against the rising rates. Often, that can be as simple as convincing someone to report a crime to police when it happens.

“In some of these areas we’ve had a couple of homicides over a weekend and no one ever calls,” Riggs said. “We have to build a sense of pride and community there. And, to do that people have to feel safe and feel like we care about them as a community. We’ve said we need to do more about that as a Department of Public Safety. Because, after looking at the data, we need the community’s help. We can’t do this alone. So, we’re going to try and earn their respect and trust each and every day.”PUBLIC PUSHBACK

“Without the resources, we’re just spinning our wheels again”

The problem, Harrison says, is that buy-in has been slow from those in the neighborhoods who don’t see police as partners.

“A lot of people see a lot of this stuff. But, they don’t report that to the police. They know what’s going on, but they don’t report it. So, that information doesn’t get out. That’s why a lot of the crimes that take place in these neighborhoods go unsolved,” Harrison said.

There’s a simple reason why, Harrison added: distrust.

“There is not a lot of trust in the black community with police. And, those are some of the barriers we’re trying to break down. What they may not share with police they may share with Ten Point, or other ministers in the community. And, that’s the key,” he said.

But, while Harrison said he has seen increased patrols in his neighborhood from IMPD, and increased cooperation from those ‘responsible residents,’ he claims the city isn’t meeting the program halfway by doing its part to provide all the necessary financial backing.

“We cannot do it without the resources,” he said. “We heard the same plan in the late 90s under the (Indianapolis Mayor Stephen) Goldsmith administration. We heard it under the (Indianapolis Mayor Bart) Peterson administration. We have now heard it under the Ballard administration. The missing piece is: there are no resources that have been put behind these kind of initiatives. And, without the resources, we’re just spinning our wheels again and there’s not going to be any substantial changes in these neighborhoods.”

That’s bred additional skepticism from the residents organizations like Ten Point are targeting.

“I think politics is being put ahead of public safety,” Harrison told I-Team 8. “People know I’m not afraid to say that. And, until people see that (changed) I think there’s always going to be a lot of skepticism about these new initiatives. Because, a lot of people are saying we’ve heard this before, and nothing ever gets done.”POSITIVE CHANGE

“We can’t do this alone”

Still, Riggs is convinced new relationships now being built with those community organizations give this plan the best chance its ever had to succeed. But, he cautions: results likely won’t come quickly.

“I think it’s going to take at least a year before we start seeing some improvement. I’m not even saying significant improvement – just improvement. You don’t fix the mental health issues overnight. You don’t fix the poverty issues overnight. You don’t magically fix educational issues. This is difficult, hard work,” Riggs said.

And, it’s made more difficult because of the adversaries police are facing.

“94 percent of all our suspects now have criminal histories. We have to do a better job in this city and in this state of holding criminals responsible and keeping them in prison for at least five or 10 years. In Indiana, unfortunately, we still have numerous individuals that are doing less than five years (in prison) on a gun charge. We have to change that. We know the correlation. Our homicide rate is down 35 percent (so far) this year because of some significant arrests. We know property crime is down double digits. But, that’s not the case in these six areas,” Riggs said.

DPS may soon get additional help from an unlikely source: drugs like heroin and cocaine peddled in the very neighborhoods they’re targeting.

“Our federal partners have increased their staffing because of money (from several recent large drug busts) coming back into their coffers,” Riggs said. “And, they have said they’re going to focus on these six areas, and they’re going to focus on these individuals that have criminal past because they have mandatory minimum sentencing that’s going to have some long-term effects in these areas. When someone gets arrested on a federal gun charge they’re going to have to do 85 percent of their sentencing.”

Still, Riggs cautions IMPD cannot simply arrest its way out of the problems in these focus areas.

“I want citizens to understand: the only way we’re going to be successful is if the community in these areas is involved and the bigger community of Central Indiana is involved,” he said. “We can’t do this alone.”NEXT STEPS

The funding fight for both the crime confrontation project and citywide public safety will continue next month as the City-County Council considers public safety budget requests. But, they’ll have new data on the project before they do.

The Department of Public Safety is scheduled to release a comprehensive report on Tuesday outlining the project’s 2015 first quarter performance. Watch for updated numbers from that report on 24-Hour News 8.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Rick Hite will lead a team of members with the public safety administration to the White House.

Once there, the White House will host sessions on the use of technology and data to improve transparency and accountability between police and the community.

Recently, Indy’s Public Safety Department has been praised for it’s use of numbers to inform Indianapolis residents on criminal trends in the city.

In late 2014, DPS started a new philosophy that aimed towards giving critical resources to some of Indy’s most challenged neighborhoods. The department used crime data, emergency service runs, code and compliance, and even animal care and control.

“It show a lot of good work that our 3,200 employees have done to get us national recognition,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

Four other public safety departments were invited to the meeting. The goal is that other departments around the country will use the information to improve their departments relationships between residents and police.

Riggs and Hite left Tuesday afternoon, the two are schedule to come back Wednesday afternoon.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Security measures for this weekend’s Final Four festivities are well underway – from Lucas Oil Stadium to White River State Park where a series of free concerts will be held.

Public safety officials say they have a robust plan in place. From Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to Indianapolis Fire Department, Marion County Sheriff’s Department, to EMS, State Police, and Homeland Security – as well as the TSA, FBI and Secret Service – all will be working hand in hand to ensure the safety of not only those who will be downtown but everyone around the county.

“We are prepared on a public safety level for anything that occurs,” said Michael Bates, Commander of Homeland Security. “Our primary focus is staying vigilant as far as being able to mitigate, respond to any incidents whether they’re downtown or actually anywhere in the county.”Full Coverage: 2015 Final Four 

With 10 square miles of Final Four entertainment – from Fan Fest to concerts to open practices and the games Saturday and Monday at Lucas Oil Stadium – public safety officials want to ensure not only a good time, but a safe one. To that end, restricted leave of officers is in place – all will be working.

“Which means you’re going to have a larger footprint not only downtown but also in our neighborhoods,” said Chief Rick Hite, IMPD. “Our concerns making sure people have a good time wherever they are in the city – be it neighborhoods, downtown, White River.”

Troy Riggs, Director of Public Safety, calls the planning for the Final Four immense but said it also has to be a community effort.

“If you see something, say something,” Riggs said. “If you see somebody that’s getting in an argument please pick up your phone. call and let us know so police officers can get there and respond. If you see someone that is hurt. make sure you give us a call immediately.”

In the wake of the Religious Freedom law, a site has been set up at Merrill Street and Capitol Avenue for any protests that might occur.

“If they want to demonstrate, they want to march – that’s fine,” Bates said. “We’re going to allow them to exercise their first amendment short of any type of chaos as far as destruction, breaking windows – whatever the case may be.”

A federal and local threat assessment found nothing, and social media monitoring – which is already underway – will continue. The primary focus vigilance – with all aware the eyes of the country will be on the Circle City.

“It’s gonna be a good weekend, a successful weekend and once again showcase why we’re the basketball capitol of the world,” Riggs said.

A new partner this year in ensuring public safety is the National Weather Service, who will have personnel on site at the command center, as well as the White River State Park operations center to keep an eye on the sky.

A new policy in place will dictate what can be carried into the various venues. It’s based off what the NFL does – if you want to carry something into Lucas Oil, Fan Fest or White River State Park, it will need to be in a clear bag.

The policy was actually put in place at least year’s Final Four events in North Texas but this is the first time for Indianapolis. John Dedman, vice president of communications for the Indiana Sports Corporation, said while it’s a standard practice at major events around the country, for the Final Four it has been extended not just to the games, but all fan events.

“We’re really focused on how we can provide a great experience to those fans who are coming in to town as well as those fans who are here locally,” Dedman said. “And really give them a final four experience focused on basketball, music, fan fest and all these other things and we’re really excited about what’s going to happen.”

The NCAA is giving away the bags at downtown Indianapolis hotels, the Indiana Convention Center and most entrances and exits where clear bags are required.

You can also use a clear bag of your own that doesn’t exceed the size of the NCAA bag or a one gallon clear storage bag. Small clutch purses smaller than 5.5 inches by 8.5 inches will also be allowed.

For a full list of security policies and procedures, click here.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Around 40 percent of the 23,000 Marion County jail inmates suffer from a mental illness. That’s according to the department of public safety, which hosted a neighborhood meeting Tuesday.

Director Troy Riggs says it’s important to provide them resources as they transition from jail back into society. An idea under discussion is an engagement facility, where inmates can get help for mental illness, or drug and alcohol addictions.

“We’re having high homicide and fatal shooting rates. These two go hand and hand. We have to get our hands around health issues if we want to be safe in this community,” said Riggs.

Another meeting will be held next week to continue the discussion on building the engagement facility.

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is teaming up with the FBI.

This comes after the FBI more than doubled its staffing. Agents will work to identify repeat criminals committing crimes in six of the city’s most challenged neighborhoods.

The agency will use intel from the jails and the Department of Corrections to identify those that could pose a threat once released.

Those charged with crimes by the FBI face mandatory sentences, which result in longer prison sentences. Currently police on the local level don’t have those guidelines at their disposal.

“When we arrest someone, we don’t have mandatory sentencing which means they will be back on the streets in a few years,” said Public Safety Director Troy Riggs.

During a news conference on Tuesday, Chief Hite gave examples of suspects in major cases that were released from prison early, and then committed more serious crimes.

“I think when we arrest these subjects, they see FBI and it’s federal, it will send a shock to their system,” said Kevin Lyons with FBI.

Lyons would not confirm how many FBI agents have been recently hired.