Indianapolis mayor eyes anti-crime steps

Indianapolis officials say they’ll continue boosting the size of the city’s police force and expanding support for neighborhood anti-crime efforts in response to a seven-year trend of increasing homicides.

City police have recorded 148 criminal homicides for the year through the weekend, just below 2016’s record 149 killings.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said Monday that families and neighborhoods around the city are facing an unacceptable human cost from the violence. “It is heartbreaking and maddening and it is senseless,” he said.

Hogsett said he aims to add about 150 police officers by the end of 2019 and have more officers assigned to smaller neighborhood beats so they can become better acquainted with residents and their crime concerns.

Police Chief Bryan Roach said the department now has 19 such beats and he wants that number to grow to perhaps 80 next year.

“We want to change the mindset within the Police Department so that they understand they’re going to have an area they’re responsible for (and) I’m going to hold them accountable for,” Roach said.

The city will also add five staffers who will focus on violence-reduction programs and make $300,000 a year available for neighborhood-level programs, said Hogsett, a Democrat who was the city’s top federal prosecutor before running for mayor in 2015.

Other planned steps include more crackdowns by city police on convicted felons who illegally have guns, and increasing sweeps by probation and community corrections staffers in neighborhoods with the most violence.

Republican leaders chided Hogsett for being slow to react after two straight years of record homicide numbers.

“In 2015, Joe Hogsett ran for the office of mayor of Indianapolis, vowing to fix our crime crisis here. And frankly, it’s only gotten worse on his watch,” said state Sen. Jim Merritt, who is Marion County GOP chairman.

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