IMPD adds full-time SWAT team to fight crime
A major change for IMPD, which now has a full-time SWAT team for the first time in more than a decade.
Metro Police say it's about getting the most dangerous criminals off the streets, using an elite team of officers. Forty-two of them are on the SWAT team and now, 16 work it full-time.
They're the city's most highly-trained officers and now they are dedicated to rooting out criminals. Sixteen members of the new full-time IMPD SWAT team are in their third week on the streets.
"We're letting the bad guys know we're out here. We've put added pressure, so do the right thing or you're going to jail," said patrolman Klinton Streeter, a full-time member of the SWAT team.
Streeter and the other SWAT team members serve high-risk warrants nearly every other day.
They also investigate narcotics and gun complaints and search for violent suspects in the most dangerous scenarios. Monday night, they got a call for a report of an armed robber, allegedly holed up in a home near New York and Sherman.
Full time SWAT can respond in minutes. Police say before, when they were part-time, splitting district and SWAT patrols, it often took longer.
"They're taking runs, they're looking for bad guys. Obviously they're looking for a higher profile criminal," explained Major Ted Fries, IMPD Homeland Security.
The full-time team was needed, police say, because of increased gun and drug violence in Indy. Plus, there have been 30 police action shootings in the last year. They say a big city gets big problems and Indianapolis needs focused efforts to stop them.
"I think we're the only city in the top 15 biggest cities that didn't have a full-time team," Major Fries said.
Now that we do, SWAT team members have already seen a change.
"It's made a difference. Just in the short three weeks, we've made many gun arrests," Streeter said. "We are hitting the hot spot areas and we're very visible."
"Having the right people out at the right time with the right training can make a difference , and it really can save a life," Fries said.
IMPD leaders say having a full-time team will end up saving the department about $130,000 a year in overtime.
We also asked if taking the 16 officers off of district patrols, would that hurt the overall numbers out on the street?
They say no.
Officers say schedule shifting is keeping district beats full. They add that by focusing SWAT investigations, the entire force and city is better off.
“If they’re not serving a search warrant, they’re working in some of the most troubled neighborhoods that we have, all over the city," Fries said.