Indianapolis announces Troy Riggs as new public safety head

Troy Riggs
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As expected, Mayor Greg Ballard announced his new public safety director Tuesday. The mayor introduced former Corpus Christi Police Chief and assistant city manager Troy Riggs.

Troy Riggs will inherit myriad problems both outside and inside the police department. But people like Jinny Davis want to know what Riggs can do to make her south side neighborhood safer when it comes to things like traffic.

"The stop signs. I know they can't watch this all the time but maybe a little more presence in the neighborhood," she said.

Better police presence is something Riggs believes as he can address right away. He's already learned that there are more sworn officers assigned away from the streets. That's something he sees as a weakness for fighting crime.

"We have a very large police department. We have less than 50 percent in patrol division at this time. I have been talking with [IMPD] Chief [Rick] Hite and I would like to start moving that up," said Riggs.

Riggs replaces Frank Straub, who resigned under a cloud of controversy following a rocky road as public safety director. The FOP is optimistic.

"If this guy is everything he seems to be today, then this is a boon for Indianapolis," said Bill Owensby, president, Fraternal Order of Police.

Jinny Davis says if Riggs can indeed help with the problems in her neighborhood, he can make a difference in how safe she feels.

"It affects my quality of life," Davis said.

One of her concerns is abandoned homes drawing crime.

"Nine times out of ten its someone that doesn't own the home, they rent, and some keep them up nice and some don't."

North side Indianapolis mother Casey Ailes rides her bike with her son Oscar in tow, sometimes on the Monon Trail. She'd like to know "how they plan on making the streets safer for bicyclist and pedestrians."

That was something Riggs addressed Tuesday. "We need to make sure people understand what the rules are, and that they understand that they are suppose to share the road with cyclists," he said.

"We can look at the data where we are having crime issues, where we are having code enforcement, homes that are abandoned and we are going to deal with those areas first," said Riggs.

Randy Reynolds says on Indianapolis' east side, he sometimes carries a baseball bat for protection against stray dogs.

"What would he do about the stray dogs? Because when I am out with my son and my dog we have to be really careful," said Reynolds.

We met Kenneth Root as he cut his grass the old-fashioned way using a manual lawn mower. The longtime west side homeowner had this question for Riggs.

"How are you going to go about keeping our kids safe on these bus stops since they are out so early?"

"We need citizens to call that in," Riggs said. "I guarantee once you call, Chief Hite and the men and women on his command will deal with that quickly and effectively."

Riggs admits he has his work cut out for him, and with the help of police and the community, it's a challenge he looks forward to.

Troy Riggs is scheduled to start as public safety director October 29.