Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced major changes to his public safety strategy Thursday.
New initiatives include prosecuting more violent offenders on the federal level, goals to increase firearm regulation in Marion County, and increases in pay for Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers.
Hogsett launched a three-year violence reduction plan last year, which allocated more funding for police, technology and grants for grassroots groups to curb violence in the city. In an address at the IMPD Training Academy, Hogsett announced the plan’s next phase.
Plans to address gun regulation and violence
The city intends to hire three attorneys who will report to the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute violent offenders in Indianapolis on the federal level.
“As a former federal prosecutor, I'm particularly heartened that these federal charges will usually result in these bad actors being taken off our streets,” he said.
Federal crimes often carry higher penalties, and defendants can be denied bail and must serve the majority of their sentence in prison.
Hogsett also announced that one of his office’s top priorities during the next legislative session will be working to get the General Assembly to change state law surrounding gun regulation.
Currently, individuals do not need a permit to carry a firearm in Indiana. Hogsett said Indianapolis should be able to have its own laws surrounding firearm regulation.
The mayor plans to introduce three ordinances to the City-County Council next month that would go into effect in Marion County if state law changes.
The first measure would create a ban on assault-style weapons such as AR-15s. A second would increase the minimum age to purchase a weapon from 18 to 21. The third would end permitless carry and concealed carry of handguns.
“Although these common sense measures will be on the books, they will not have the force of law until and unless the General Assembly takes the long overdue step to withdraw its local preemption on Indianapolis residents creating their own laws,” he said.
Hogsett said law enforcement will take actions that are permitted under current state law to reduce gun violence.
For example, private groups or businesses who are hosting an event on public property can declare the area a “gun-free zone.” If they do so, law enforcement can help enforce it.
Hogsett added that properties such as bars and entertainment venues who often have public safety issues, and do not implement adequate security or control firearm possession, can be held accountable under the state’s nuisance law.
Higher pay for IMPD officers
Hogsett’s plan includes another pay increase for IMPD officers after a bump in the city’s 2023 budget, with the hope of recruiting more people to join the force. The salary for first-year officers will increase to more than $71,000 a year, and for second-year officers it will rise to more than $75,000.
Bonuses will also be given of up to $2,500 for officers who stay with the department.
In 2016, IMPD officers made about $39,000 a year.
“We've spent years working to boost these unacceptably low numbers, and we are not finished yet,” Hogsett said.
Community initiatives to address public safety
The next phase of Hogsett’s plan continues work to support community grassroots groups who are trying to improve public safety. Another round of grant funding totalling $15 million will be allocated to neighborhood organizations.
Hogsett’s plan has also supported the Indy Peace Fellowship, which uses violence interrupters to stop violence from happening. It also connects people with resources and life coaching.
The city will host a program this summer for youth that will offer programming and classes. It will be organized by the Office of Public Health and Safety and the Indy Public Safety Foundation.
Criminal homicides in Indianapolis decreased by 16 percent in 2022. Officials have said the violence reduction plan played a role in the lower number.