Police Chief Troy Riggs will leave IMPD at the end of the year, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Wednesday morning.
“At the end of this challenging year, Chief Troy Riggs will be leaving the City of Indianapolis to pursue other opportunities," Hogsett says.
Riggs says he has "offers on the table" for new employment, and that the decision to depart leaves him with mixed emotions. He says it was made in the interest of his family and their financial future.
"I leave with no animosity. Only hope and promise for what this city is going to accomplish in the future, under the mayor's leadership," Riggs says.
In lieu of any more details on where he might go, Riggs did say he and his family plan to stay in Indianapolis, and that he is not looking for another police department job. He choked up when talking about the men and women he'll be leaving.
"We have the best people, and I'll end my police career here," Riggs says.
Riggs became chief of IMPD in January. Before that, he served three years as public safety director under then Mayor Greg Ballard. He taught public safety for a brief time at IUPUI before becoming chief.
This isn't the first time Riggs has raised concerns about public safety salaries in the state. When he left his position as public safety director in 2015 he told WFYI, "Now that I’m leaving, let me be a little bit bold in saying this. We have to have a community discussion about what we pay some of our top individuals in public safety."
Hogsett admits that the police chief's salary, relatively low compared to chiefs in other Midwestern cities, could make it tough to find a talented replacement.
IMPD police chief Rick Hite, who held the position before Riggs, earned $118,657 a year according to the Indiana Gateway database. His counterpart in Louisville earned about $173,000, according to city records. And the chief of the St. Louis Police Department was paid $127,000.
Riggs commended the mayor’s recent announcement detailing proposed criminal justice system reform, and says he was only comfortable leaving because he feels public safety efforts in the city will maintain its positive trajectory.
Hogsett says the process to select a new chief began Wednesday morning. The mayor will meet Wednesday afternoon to put a transition plan in place, and says announcements about the process and timeline for the hire will come in the following couple of days.
As the city waits to see who will replace Riggs, some are nervous about the future of public safety policy, especially in light of news that homicides in Indianapolis are at record levels.
Since Riggs took the job last January IMPD has continued to implement community policing in 15 high-crime sections of the city, in part to build trust between officers and the citizens they serve.
Riggs says it’s been a success.
“Crime rates in those areas proves that that model of policing works, with homicides down ten percent and shootings down seven percent in those areas,” Riggs says.
But the City of Indianapolis is on pace to surpass its all-time record for yearly homicides. A 48-year-old man was fatally shot Wednesday night, marking the 145th murder in 2016.
Riggs says the department needs more money for community policing to expand and make a big difference. Reverend Charles Ellis, executive director of the Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, says the same.
“We’ve got to have the help and the support of the community along with the police, to make Indianapolis a safe community,” Ellis says. “That’s the fundamental premise that needs to be understood.”
Ellis says Riggs has been a good partner for community groups, and he hopes for a new police chief who understands the city can’t simply arrest its way out of its crime problem.