INDIANAPOLIS -- The two candidates for Indianapolis mayor held dueling press conferences Thursday to discuss public safety, each standing in front of a different restaurant that was recently robbed at gunpoint.
Republican Chuck Brewer spoke in front of Papa Roux, on the Far Eastside. That restaurant was recently victimized by an armed robber, prompting its owner to offer discounts to customers with firearm permits.
Brewer called for tougher penalties for those who carry out gun crimes.
"The people who gun down our sons and daughters on the streets of our neighborhoods need to be locked up for a long time," he said, but added that first-time offenders need more assistance so they don't return to prison.
A former U.S. Marine, Brewer says his opponent Joe Hogsett’s experience as a federal prosecutor does not translate to public safety experience.
"He makes decisions behind a desk. I am a strong and proven combat leader," Brewer said. "I operate on the front lines."
Hogsett countered those remarks an hour later when he held a press conference along North College Ave. in front of Binkley's, another eatery recently robbed while customers were present. He says as a U.S. Attorney, he stared down drug cartels and gang leaders.
"That’s real, hands on experience you only get if you stand in that position," said Hogsett. "If he believes that the U.S. Attorney sits behind a desk every day, he must not know much about what the U.S. Attorney does."
The Indianapolis police union, FOP Lodge 86, has endorsed Hogsett and his public safety platform. Both candidates are calling for the hiring of 150 additional IMPD officers.
FOP 86 president Rick Snyder says many cities the size of Indianapolis have larger police forces. IMPD is "woefully understaffed," Snyder said.