Riggs: Violent crime not 'through the roof'

Homicides up, other crimes even or down

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis is on pace this year to set a dubious record for homicides. Despite that, police say crime on the whole hasn't increased.

Earlier this month, IMPD Officer Perry Renn was killed in a shootout with a suspect. During the same weekend, seven people were shot in Broad Ripple, and another two women were shot on the east side.

The list of violent acts in the city so far this year is long, and it adds up to the perception that violence has gotten out of control.

"When I hear people say that crime is through the roof, that's simply not the case," said Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs. "But, that doesn't negate some of the incidents we've seen or the amount of officers fired upon, losing two officers, some of the high profile cases."

According to IMPD's data, the number of violent crimes in the city dropped slightly from 2012 to 2013. Up this year are robberies, which have increased by 5 percent. Police say that increase has been driven by heroin use.

Shootings are up slightly from 2013, while aggravated assaults have remained even.

Homicides are the problematic stat: Indianapolis has had 78 so far – 9 more than this period last year.

"I believe in my heart and experience, having been here now almost four years, that the people of Indianapolis are better than that," said IMPD Chief Rick Hite.

Police are pushing legislators for mandatory minimum sentencing for using a gun during a violent crime. They say if those sentences had been in place, as many as 20 fewer homicides would have happened this year.

State Senator Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) says he plans to reintroduce a bill mandating those sentences to send "a strong message."

"If you even brandish a gun during the commission of a crime, you're going away for 20 years," Merritt said of his bill.

According to "Congressional Quarterly," Indianapolis ranks sixth out of 32 cities for the highest crime rate in cities with populations of a half-million or more.

Last year was the first time since 2008 the city had seen more than 100 homicides in a year.

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