Crime reduction plan offers back-up for beat officers

IMPD officers like Bill Wogan are spending more time searching for drugs and guns during traffic stops.
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For the day-to-day officer out on the beat, "Operation Safe" will means more help doing the job beat officers do every day.

The new crime reduction initiative is supposed to cut down on the number of crime scenes throughout the Circle City.

Metro Police Chief Rick Hite and his command staff are kicking off their crime fighting initiative by warning criminals it's time for a change, especially those carrying guns.

"Unfortunately, East District has a lot of hot spots, but that's just the nature of the beast, I guess," said IMPD Officer Bill Wogan as he drove his police cruiser along East 25th Street through the city's Brightwood neighborhood.

The beast Wogan was talking about is the crime that seems to rear its ugly head more when the summer months come along.

"I think there's a definite correlation between summer months and the heat and the crime rate, without a doubt," said Wogan.

Not this summer, city leaders and IMPD's top brass have vowed. "Operation Safe" and with it "Clean Sweep" have already rounded up 50 people in trouble with the law in one day.

"If you work the same area all week, you tend to know the troublemakers," said Wogan of police work on the beat.

For Wogan, even with "Operation Safe," not much has changed. His job is still the same.

Wogan said he pulls over drivers he has reason to stop for some kind of traffic offense. He hopes along the way, he finds more during that stop, like drugs or guns.

"It really is a numbers game. The more you stop, the more you get," said Wogan.

According to IMPD statistics, the guns are clearly out there. In the past year and a half, suspects have opened fire on police 22 different times. Eight Metro officers have been injured by gunfire, one of them fatally.

"I'd rather spend my day stopping a bunch of people looking for other drugs and the guns that are causing a lot of these issues and homicides then write a hundred tickets a day and not find a single gun," said Wogan.

Thursday was not one of those days. But that doesn't mean, said Wogan, tomorrow won't be.

Even though "Operation Safe" is being launched as a summer initiative, plans are for it to be a year-long operation.