Riggs: Apathy toward crime biggest threat of 2014

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The city's public safety director wants people to start taking crime personally, like the victim is a member of their family.

Indianapolis Public Safety Director Troy Riggs is outlining public safety's goals, called apathy toward crime the biggest threat of 2014.

So many murders - 125 in 2013 - and so much agony, it can be so easy to just tune it all out.

"You see it every day," said Joshua Crane. "You see it all the time and you just turn around and cook dinner."

Joshua's life was unaffected, uninterrupted by crime until December of 2011.

"I was the victim. I was in the headline," he said in a quiet voice.

Burglars broke into his home. They took an Xbox, a PlayStation, a cell phone, and the lives of Joshua's eight-year-old daughter Kyleigh and 21-year-old brother Jeremy.

"Now it is completely different," he explained. "It took it to happen to me in order for me to see how bad it is, which is bad to say, but it's the truth."

And that truth hurts a city more than many realize. Riggs looked over a group of city and community leaders, police, firefighters, and other public safety workers as he addressed the city.

"We need to treat every death as a tragedy, every assault if it were against our own family member," he said with passion in his voice.

Riggs rattled off the numbers of additional cops, technology, and programs aimed at ending the epidemic of murders. The biggest threat, he says, of 2014 isn't crime, it's apathy.

"We cannot be apathetic about crime," he insisted.

That resonated with members in the audience, including Jerry Jones, a lifelong resident, businessman and member of the new Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation.

"When you have a group that is apathetic about the cause, it is really difficult to turn things around and this city is not apathetic," he said.

Even when the victims are unsympathetic, with lives filled with crime, drunks and alcohol?

Becoming a victim erased Joshua's apathy and changed his perspective.

"Maybe the guy's bad. Maybe what he is doing is wrong, but there is still family involved who is going to miss them," he said. "I lived it. I still live it. I will always live it."

Police and civic leaders want the community to become more involved in reporting and helping solve crimes. We're told more than a third of minor crimes - vandalism, car break-ins and other "small stuff" that can lead to major crimes - go unreported. Neighborhoods should get more help from police, there will be 120 more officers on the streets this year.