INDIANAPOLIS -- Public safety is always an important part of mayoral elections in major cities. This year, the backdrop is a rising murder rate in Indianapolis. Both candidates for mayor, Chuck Brewer and Joe Hogsett are calling for putting more cops on the street.
One hundred-fifty is the magic number for both candidates – how many new police officers they want on the streets of Indianapolis to combat an increase in violent crime. Both Brewer, the Republican, and Hogsett, the Democrat, have talked at length this election season about fighting crime. But there is plenty different about how they want to cut crime.
Brewer would like to create a team of social resource workers. He says that would help police officers handle calls that involve issues like mental health.
"They spend a lot of time dealing with social issues that are out there," he said. "Some of the high frequency 9-1-1 callers are really just people who need help in social issues."
Officers would be able to then call in a social worker to connect that person with city resources, according to Brewer.
Hogsett was most recently a federal prosecutor. A Democrat, he was Indiana Secretary of State in the early 90s before running for other offices. Brewer owns two downtown restaurants after serving as a U.S. Marine for two decades. He’s a Republican. Hogsett and Brewer are running to replace Ballard, who is not seeking re-election after two terms.
Hogsett says putting more police on the street will allow for a return to neighborhood police work "so that every neighborhood knows its police officer and every police officer knows its neighborhood," he said.
The Democrat says he would also end a moratorium on new streetlights in Indy. And he’d form a neighborhood task force to focus on distressed neighborhoods. He’d also expand youth summer jobs programs, funded through donations and nonprofits.
"As a way to give hundreds of local young people job experience, useful skills and safe and productive alternatives to crime and to gangs," Hogsett said.
Both candidates say they support police body cameras. It’s an expensive upgrade to officer’s equipment. There is some money in next year’s budget to start a program. But Indy failed to win a federal grant to scale up a program.
And Brewer is a big proponent of hiring ex-offenders. He says he does so at his restaurants and would push more Indy company to hire non-violent felons.
Brewer says he would focus several of the new police he'd officers on drugs. He’d form a heroin taskforce.
And he would also assign three dozen new cops to the city’s existing drug taskforce to help combat endemic drugs. "It is absolutely critical that we put together a heroin taskforce and attack not just demand but also the supply side," he said.
Brewer also wants to restore the Violence Reduction Partnership. He says that would bring together city police, prosecutors and federal law enforcement agents.
Indianapolis’ Department of Public Safety undertook an analytical and holistic crime reduction effort, focused on some of the city’s most crime-plagued neighborhoods by attacking quality of life issues. The architect of that plan, Troy Riggs, has moved to academia. Both candidates have expressed a desire to continue some version of the data-driven police work.