NewsPublic AffairsGovernment / July 7, 2014

Police Call For Policy Changes To Combat Violence

Sam Klemet
Police Call For Policy Changes To Combat Violence

The city of Indianapolis is beginning the healing process after a violent weekend that saw seven people shot in Broad Ripple and a police officer killed on the near east side.

Monday morning, Public Safety Director Troy Riggs and Police Chief Rick Hite met with IMPD’s new recruit class to talk about the incidents.

Riggs wanted to meet with the recruits because he knows the impact of seeing another officer killed can have on them and their families.

"We wanted to sit there and tell them about the services that are available, that it's ok to be fearful at times.  It's ok to talk about these issues," said Riggs.  "And, also thank them for their willingness to serve this community."

But, he says the killing of 51-year-old officer Perry Renn reinforces the danger faced by the men and women in blue.

"In a private meeting that I had with (the recruits) 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," said Riggs.  "I said, as I did the first time, that 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 need to find another profession."

"We've had none leave."

And IMPD Chief Rick Hite hopes these incidents are a vivid example for recruits as to why their training is so key.

"Most importantly, we planted a seed so they'll understand as they go through training why every phase of training is so important, particularly when you are looking at a combat situation," said Hite.  "They'll have more of an appreciation for what we are saying."

Renn answered a called in the 3400 block of Forest Manor around 9:30 p.m., Saturday. He exchanged fire with the suspect Major Davis Jr. who had an assault rifle.  Renn was struck and died at Eskenazi Hospital shortly before 10 p.m. Davis remains in the hospital in critical condition and preliminarily charged with murder.

Hite says Davis, who has a previous criminal history, should not have been able to acquire an assault weapon, and that he could get one points to the need for public policy changes.

"If we know the needs in our community.  If we know we need additional substance abuse, mental health legislation to change the sentencing laws and guidelines, what are we waiting for," said Hite.  "We need people to step up and do what is necessary.  Put away the political bickering.  Move quickly.  Staff when we need to staff.  Build policies and put rules and laws in place because you see what will happen if we don't."

Hite would not specify what type of assault weapon was used.

Both he and Riggs are pushing for new sentencing guidelines that would require a minimum 20 years in prison for violent crimes.

Riggs says even if half of that requirement was in place now, there would be almost 20 percent less homicides this year.

"We believe right now, and we are still gathering the data, we believe that if we just had a minimum of 10 years in prison, that 15 to 20 of our homicides would not have occurred this year, so far, just simply because those individuals would have certainly been in prison," said Riggs.  "What you are seeing is a great propensity of people coming back into our community having the propensity to commit violence or be a victim of violence."

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says something needs to change to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.  He is discouraged by efforts on the state level and is looking for federal intervention.

"A lot of the black market or underground trade in guns involves stolen weapons and that's going to happen, but it seems to me that if we can make any dent whatsoever in the availability of weapons to those that we don't want to have them, then any reasonable restrictions should be considered," said Curry.  "We need to look to Congress at the federal level because clearly our state legislature shows no inclination whatsoever to address those requirements."

But, Curry says combating violence starts even before the judicial system gets involved.

"You see the kids that come through juvenile who then go into adult criminal activity. If they reach the second and third grade and can't read, they are on a disaster path," said Curry.  "From a legislative standpoint, we need a better commitment to early education.  To bring it full circle, that's the sort of things that has to happen to break the culture that is leading to the situation we find ourselves in now."

Police also are investigating the shooting of seven people in Broad Ripple, Friday night.

Hite says more information is needed for charges and adds that IMPD still needs witnesses to come forward.

Those with information are asked to call 262-TIPS.

Visitation for Officer Perry Renn will be Thursday at Crown Hill Funeral Home , from 2 to 8 p.m. Funeral services will be held Friday at Banker's Life Fieldhouse. Both events are open to the public.



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