IMPD Chief Hite, Public Safety Director Riggs call for longer penalties, tougher controls

IMPD Ofc. Perry Renn
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From the mayor on down, Indianapolis city leaders and lawmen are demanding tougher controls on assault rifles and longer penalties for criminals who use guns. They raised the call within hours of IMPD Officer Perry Renn's murder and promise to continue the fight, insisting better enforcement and new laws will save lives.

Top brass met with IMPD recruits today to talk about Officer Renn's death. They also talked about what they'd like to see happen to make the streets safer.

Investigators say Major Davis, Jr. murdered Renn with an assault rifle. It is a powerful weapon intended for warfare - a weapon Indianapolis Metro Police Chief Rick Hite says Davis should not have been able to get hold of.

"This is not the first time he's had an assault weapon," Hite said, "The question is why, why is he allowed obtain that weapon and use that weapon?"

Davis had a previous arrest, but no conviction for possession of assault rifles.

Hite, the public safety director and others are demanding better enforcement of existing gun laws and tougher penalties for breaking them. He explained, "Bad guys and gunmen have to go to jail for longer periods of time and we have to have legislation as part of the process."

Figures released by the Indianapolis Department of Public Safety show more than one-third (38%) of murder suspects and almost half (47%) of all murder victims have previous arrests for weapons violations.

Troy Riggs, public safety director, added, "Chief Hite, the police men and women are doing a tremendous job arresting people." Director Riggs explained, "The difficulty is we are arresting the same people over and over again."

Riggs pointed to two high-profile violent crimes. In the brutal home invasions last year on the city's north side, the suspended ringleader had served less than 3 years of a 16-year sentence.

In 2010, a teenager who fired into a crowed downtown, injuring nine people during the Black Expo, went to prison for two and a half years..

"If you are using a weapon in a serious violent crime, or sexual assault you should go to prison for a mandatory 20 years," Riggs said.

Longer terms, he insists, would significantly reduce the numbers of shootings and homicides, making city neighborhoods safer for people living in them and police patrolling them.

However, many state lawmakers aren't convinced. This year city leaders asked the legislature for a mandatory 20-year prison term for crimes committed with guns. Lawmakers responded with five years judges may add onto a prison sentence.

Senator Jim Merritt of Indianapolis and city leaders say they will try again next year for that 20-year term.

As for the message to the IMPD recruit class, Riggs said, "When we first hired these individuals, I told them that this is the reality of the job, that this could happen, that they needed to be ready for this very moment. And I reminded them of that today and also challenged them. I said as I did the first time, if they weren't ready to meet this challenge, if they weren't ready to lay their life on the line for the safety of others that they needed to find another profession. We've had none leave. They're resolute. They're committed."

"We may have to lay our lives down for the public, for the people in Indianapolis, for our families, for ourselves and our brothers and sisters, so it is a gut check moment, really," said Carl Clark, IMPD recruit.

"I want to be here. This is where I want to be and if the cost of it is your life, it is something you've got to realize - when you are in law enforcement it can happen at any time," said Takara Mayo, recruit.

As of noon Monday, no formal charges had been filed against Davis. He was still hospitalized, listed in critical condition.