Indy leaders unite in support of tougher sentencing laws

Officer's killing pulls police, mayor together

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis leaders said Saturday they want action now to keep illegal guns out of the hands of criminals and tougher sentences for those who have them.

Mayor Greg Ballard said much of the recent violence in the city, including the killing of Officer Perry Renn, is caused by people who think nothing of carrying a weapon to commit a crime.

MORE: 6 officers in Indy killed in shootings since 2001

Ballard said that if violent offenders were put behind bars for a longer period of time, the city's murder rate would drop.

Ballard and Marion County Public Safety Director Troy Riggs testified more than once at the Indiana Statehouse earlier this year in support of harsher sentencing for certain violent criminals.

"Frankly, I'm just not going to accept the fact that we're going to allow the police to re-arrest these people over and over again," Ballard said. "They wonder why the rate is the way it is when it's pretty obvious to the rest of us."

Ballard and Riggs urged legislators to pass a bill that would allow courts to add five years to sentences for anyone who uses a gun to commit a felony.

That measure was unsuccessful, but both said they will push for it again prior to the next legislative session.

Riggs said suspects in 90 percent of Indianapolis' homicides have a criminal record and that 40 percent of those involve gun charges.

Rick Snyder, vice-president of the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, said the issue must be addressed.

"(Gun violence) has been a long-term problem. We've been talking about it for a long time. It didn't just pop up. The question now is: What are we going to do about it?" Snyder said. "Indy can't wait. It's time for us to be bold. It's time for us to take assertive action."

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