Lawmakers: Longer sentences, more police will deter crime

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Harsher sentences and an increased police presence can help fight crime in Indiana, Republican state senators said Wednesday.

A "crime-reduction package" of five bills was introduced Wednesday in front of the Indiana Law Enforcement and Firefighters Memorial in downtown Indianapolis. The proposal comes in the wake of recent police shootings in the state and an increase in homicides in Indianapolis.

Each bill would address specific law enforcement and criminal justice issues.

One measure sponsored by Sen. Mike Young, R-Indianapolis, would provide an additional 20-year sentence for crimes where a gun was pointed at or used on a police officer. Young cited the recent police killings in Lake and Marion County.

"What we want to do is keep people in prison longer who we're afraid of, who harm our citizens, and not people that we're just mad at," Young said.

Sen. Brent Waltz, R-Greenwood, is backing a bill that would give the state's three most populous counties — Marion, Lake and Allen County — $200,000 each for the next two years to increase police presence in high-crime areas.

The package also included measures that grow the list of offenses that qualify for sentencing enhancement, and stop felons with two or more weapon-related convictions from getting crimes expunged from their record.

Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, also announced his proposal to extend the statute of limitations for filling rape charges by five years, giving prosecutors more time to file charges if there is a confession, a new suspect is identified or new DNA is found.

Proposals from the crime package will have to pass through a Senate committee group before any further action is taken.

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