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Some Indy Officers Skeptical of Zone Policing

Indianapolis police are changing the way officers attack crime and patrol neighborhoods, but the new strategy has been met with resistance from those charged with implementing the plan.

The Department of Public Safety will soon release a study that concluded police don't have enough people to staff every beat every day, and that trying to do so is both counterproductive and an ineffective use of resources.

"You need to put the police where the crime is and where you anticipate the crime is going," Public Safety Director Frank Straub told RTV6's Jack Rinehart.

The city's Southwest District has engaged the concept of zone policing in which commanders use real-time data to tell them where most of the crime is occurring and where to shift the necessary resources.

The concept has taken most of the officers from the far southwest side neighborhoods and pushed them into the neighborhoods immediately west of downtown.

The Fraternal Order of Police supports the concept of zone policing, but said Indianapolis police lack adequate staffing, which puts the public and the police at risk.

"If an officer gets in trouble in the outlying areas and someone has to go 10 miles to get to them, 10 miles or 10 minutes, that's an eternity when you're in trouble," said union President Sgt. Bill Owensby.

The department has hired only one small recruit class in the past two years while losing an aggregate of 45 officers over the same period.

But in the war on crime, the public safety director said it doesn't make much sense to send the troops to where the enemy isn't.

"Criminals are the enemy, and we have an obligation to aggressively fight crime, to fight our enemy and reduce it," Straub said. "So we have to move with our enemy."

 

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