The name Greg "Public Safety is Job One" Ballard does not appear a single time in Justin Mack's rather lengthy story. Presumably, the reporter believes his inattention to public safety during his two terms as mayor had no impact on skyrocketing crime on his watch. Mack discusses a "new beginning" under Mayor Joe Hogsett, who has recalled Ballard's third public safety director, Troy Riggs, who walked off the job six months ago in the midst of this past year's record crime spree.
. . . Solving the homicide problem is not something that can be done overnight, but Indy's new leaders say they are committed to navigating the city out of its "public safety crisis."
On Saturday, the day after Mayor Joe Hogsett and Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Chief Troy Riggs took office, they unveiled their plans to fight crime in the city. Their efforts in the first 100 days include expanding the six IMPD focus areas, putting a larger emphasis on community policing and bolstering data collection.
Hogsett said the city will also collaborate with nonprofits and the private sector to address the root causes of violence long term. Issues they plan to tackle include lack of mental health services, unemployment, addiction and education shortcomings.
Laura Albright, a political science professor at the University of Indianapolis, said it is critical that Hogsett stays committed to matters of public safety throughout his mayoral term, not only because of the record-high number of homicides, but because crime-fighting policies were a major part of his election platform.
"The fact that the concern with crime was so central to the mayoral race, in terms of candidates' priorities and in terms of voters' priorities, speaks to just how important the issue is in the community," Albright said. The new mayor "must address it immediately and swiftly."
Albright said the appointment of Riggs and the establishment of his new public safety team has already shown how focused Hogsett is on crime, but he will have to combine the new faces with new polices . . .Like it or not, there was little doubt that the person really calling the shots at IMPD from 2012 through 2015 when crime in Indianapolis took a sharp turn for the worse before Riggs' departure last year was none other than Riggs. Exactly what new ideas he has for fighting Indianapolis' crime problem is not self-evident from what is reported in Mack's story. The so-called smart policing using data and targeting hot spots was supposedly implemented under Straub's tenure and continued under Riggs. These Star reporters come and go so they really don't have any historical perspective on anything they write about. Mack, a Cleveland native, only joined The Star in 2014.