INDIANAPOLIS -- Two more Indiana counties battling the scourge of illegal drugs are getting federal help through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas – or HIDTA program. Marion and La Porte counties join Lake and Porter counties, creating an expanded multi-county HIDTA in Indiana.
Inclusion in HIDTA means extra dollars for overtime and updating police equipment, but U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly says for Hoosier police agencies, it’s more than that.
“It’s also the ability for all of us to pick up a phone, call and say, 'Does this pattern look familiar? Is this something that you can spot? Is there a way that you can help us with this,” Donnelly says.
Donnelly says that includes being able to tap into the knowledge of the 589 special federal agents working in HIDTA programs across the country, and better coordinating intelligence with police departments.
Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Chief Troy Riggs emphasizes that police cannot solve the drug problem alone.
“We also have to have a conversation as a community about the voracious appetite for drugs that Americans have. And we have to get that under control," Riggs says. "That will help a lot more than HIDTA and what we’re doing on the streets – but this is part of it certainly.”
Riggs says better quality of life in Marion and the other Hoosier counties is the long-term goal.
“We will see success not because we make more arrests, and that’s going to be part of this in the beginning," he says. "We’ll see success when we see crime going down and we see seizures going down and we see the guns and the weapons we’re taking off the street – when they start going down – that’s when we’ll start to see success.”