State of the City: Mayor announces crime fight enhancements

State of the city
Mayor Hogsett on Sunrise

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Mayor Joe Hogsett delivered his third State of the City address on Monday night.

Coming off another record year of homicides, Hogsett is focusing on improving public safety in the year ahead.

Hogsett outlined plans for IMPD to return to beat policing, effective immediately.

"This recruit class will be the first in years to be assigned to a neighborhood rather than a zone. They will know their chief responsibility will be to protect and serve people, not a section of real estate," said Hogsett. "This comprehensive return to beat policing allows us to continue in our effort to stem the tide of violence that began to rise following the abandonment of beat policing in our county in 2012, and with each additional class of officers as we grow IMPD's force, we will be able to break up many of the larger areas into smaller and smaller beats, which will improve response time, facilitate fostering trust between police and community, and further localize our ongoing efforts to reform our criminal justice system."

He said assigning officers to one of 78 beats around Indianapolis will improve response time and build more trust with the community.

And with potholes still causing major problems Hogsett announced $88 million going toward resurfacing and repairing roads and bridges.

"Effective tomorrow (Tuesday), construction season will open in the city of Indianapolis with 88 million in additional dollars hitting the streets to resurface and repair our roads and bridges. And sure, that’s okay. Over the last three decades, garages have been closed, equipment has been left unrepaired, and staff has been cut. And this winter, I shared the frustration of many residents who asked why the city was forced to privately contract for even the most basic of preventative maintenance and road surfacing activities."

On top of that, he said he's submitting a plan to the council to invest in new equipment and workers for the street maintenance division.

"The end result is a street maintenance division that for years hasn't represented what our city needs and certainly hasn't had the tools or staff to provide the level of service that our citizens deserve."

And the mayor launched "Indy 3.0", a new initiative he says will make government smaller, more accessible and less costly.

The mayor talked updating and expanding the technology and software IMPD uses. One part of that involves the 100-plus surveillance cameras the city has in high-crime areas. Plans call for doing an assessment of those cameras, determining which need to be repaired or replaced and whether any need to be relocated. Also in the works, borrowing a page from Detroit's Project Green Light, a program where Detroit police are able to tap into the surveillance cameras of more than 300 businesses in real time.

Chris Staab, a neighborhood activist on the city's near east side said he likes both proposals. His neighborhood became "Beat 25" last summer as part of a pilot program testing out the new patrol system.

"In a smaller area, police are able to respond faster," he said. "We noticed the response times to 911 calls are down."

He also said of the officers, "We can call them by their first name and they know who the players are."

Staab also likes the idea of getting businesses to partner with police when it comes to surveillance cameras, calling them "a very effective tool."

Jomo Cole, who owns a barber shop on East 10th Street, also likes the idea of more cameras but said adding cameras and more officers will only go so far in curbing crime, particularly youth crime.

"We need lots and lots of programs," Cole said."We need places for these kids to go to give them something to do because idle time and idle minds is the work of the devil."

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