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Hogsett public safety restructure plan presented to City-County Council

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Since Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett appointed Troy Riggs, the former director of the Department of Public Safety (DPS), to the position of Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) chief, questions have been raised about Hogsett’s plans for DPS leadership.

A proposed ordinance presented to the City-County Council during its Feb. 29 full council meeting details the mayor’s plan to restructure the city’s public safety department and other measures aiming to “promote efficiency and save taxpayer dollars, and to remove unnecessary bureaucracy” while also promoting “better transparency” and “clear accountability.”

As expected, Proposal 112, which has been referred to the Rules and Public Policy Committee, would put Hogsett in place to directly oversee IMPD and the Indianapolis Fire Department (IFD), a responsibility that used to fall under the DPS director.

While the majority of the 54-page proposal is just language updates (changing city ordinances to say “mayor” or “chief of IMPD” where they used to say “department of public safety”), there are several new initiatives proposed, including the creation of entirely new agencies.

Here are some of the highlights from Proposal 112:

Creating the Office of Public Health and Safety

  • The goal of this office, according to the proposal, would be to “place the city on the cutting edge of modern, holistic approaches to public safety, crime prevention and mental health and to address underlying systemic cause of crime, poverty and ill health.”
  • The office would include four divisions: public safety communications, Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, the Reuben Engagement Center and re-entry services.
  • The director of the new office would be appointed by the mayor and approved by the council.
  • The director would appoint a chief of public safety communication.
  • A five-member board (made up of the director, two mayoral appointees and two council appointees, each with a one-year term) would meet monthly to conduct business.

Establishing the Albert G. and Sara I. Reuben Engagement Center

  • The Reuben Engagement Center would initially offer 30 beds for adults experiencing homelessness “who are unable to gain access to emergency shelter options.”
  • The director of the Office of Public Health and Safety would appoint an administrator to oversee operations at the center.
  • A 13-member advisory board would be convened to identify gaps in services for the city’s homeless population and make recommendations for improvements.
  • The board would include representatives from the sheriff’s office, the prosecutor’s office and the Marion County Superior Court; professionals in mental heath, medical health and substance abuse fields; and a person who has recently (or currently) experienced homelessness.

The Rules and Public Policy Committee meets next on March 29 at 5:30 p.m. in Room 260 of the City-County Building. To read the full proposal, visit indy.gov/eGov/Council/Proposals/Pages/home.aspx and click on Proposal 112.

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