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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Crime Crackdown is upon us

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I’ve been saying it for months, and it is actually happening. Indianapolis’ new mayor is about to crack down on crime in ways that will surprise and maybe concern you. One day after being sworn in as Indianapolis’ 49th mayor, Joe Hogsett announced his “100 Day Plan” to combat crime in Marion County.

While standing with his newly built administration, Hogsett announced plans to return to a more traditional community policing model. The mayor’s plan aims to put more IMPD officers on the streets of Indy’s most troubled areas. Officers would be assigned to “beats” (neighborhoods), allowing a consistent group of officers to work solely in one area. The hope is that officers get know the community and the community knows its officers.

Other plans include having more collaboration among state, local and federal law enforcement. Plans also include the use of more real-time crime data from throughout the city and increased community outreach to tackle the issues of poverty and hunger.

The most interesting, surprising and least talked about plan is Hogsett’s pursuit of 1,400 people in Indianapolis with outstanding felony warrants. My question is HOW? When Hogsett announced his crime plan, I listened to his press conference multiple times, yet I didn’t hear that answer. I went to his inauguration on New Year’s Day — no answer. I watched and listened to every mayoral debate — no answer. Yet, and still, I’m confused and concerned. I’m confused to think how it is going to work, and concerned because I don’t have that answer. When does it take effect? Who are the people you are after? Are they given notice to surrender? How do you plan to do it in fewer than 100 days and counting? I need details. Show me the picture to the future.

In my mind, I see bounty hunter-style teams cruising city streets to the homes and known places of the people on the city’s wanted list. I’m imagining officers hopping out of unmarked cars and storming their bounty. Now, that may not be what Hogsett has in mind, but right now it’s the only image in my mind. On this, I hope I’m wrong. I’d like for him to explain this in detail and soon. (I’d ask him myself, but the mayor apparently never has time to come on my radio show, despite being invited numerous times. I’m lucky if his staff acknowledges my interview requests for that matter. I’ll save that for another column.)

While lacking detail, this is Hogsett’s latest move in cracking down on crime. His first was getting rid of respected IMPD Chief Rick Hite. Black, white, rich or poor, Hite was respected and liked across the city. Some described him as “The People’s Chief.” Personally, I had a great admiration for Chief Hite. It was great to see a strong Black man in one of the highest-ranking positions in Indianapolis. But that is over and disappointing.

To some it felt like a slap in the face; after Hogsett went into the Black churches and communities to earn the Black vote, the first order of business after Election Day was to get rid of the Black guy. For me, it was a warning from Joe Hogsett saying, “Hey! That Chief you all love so much, ‘Uncle Rick,’ is out of here.” Hogsett brought in a familiar but less comforting face in Troy Riggs. That seems to be on purpose. No disrespect to Chief Riggs — he may very well turn out to be great in this role — but he’s not Chief Hite. Riggs doesn’t appear to be a “friend” to the community. I have no doubt that Riggs is a good guy, but I believe that’s what Hogsett wanted. A new face to say, “Playtime is over, I’m here to kick butt.”

Hogsett has said time and time again that he comes from law enforcement, after serving as U.S. Attorney. He has eliminated the role of Public Safety Director, saying he is in charge of public safety as mayor. He’s made it clear that his first priority is public safety (not a bad thing). People are about to get locked up on Hogsett’s watch. Whether that means more ordinances or more arrests, I don’t know. What I do know is, if Hogsett has to scare this city to drop the murder rate, I bet he would. A crackdown on crime is near. I don’t know how, and I don’t know how close, but apparently in the next 100 days.

It was clear before November, and it is clear now. Hogsett wants to be a hands-on commander of public safety (hopefully he doesn’t forget to run the rest of the city — somebody has to look after those pot holes).

Cameron Ridle is an on-air talent at Radio One Indianapolis. He is also the host of “Indy Speaks with Cameron Ridle.”

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