May 25, 2023 - Politics

Hogsett goes after guns, repeat offenders

Photo illustration: Allie Carl/Axios. Photo: Jon Cherry/Getty Images

Mayor Joe Hogsett is updating his public safety approach amid mounting criticism in an election year.

Driving the news: Hogsett on Thursday announced several new policies starting with a push to recruit and retain police.

Why it matters: Criminal homicides soared to a record 249 in 2021 and, while dropping to 226 last year, remain on a pace far above the 2010s when 150 could be considered a bad year.

Details: Indianapolis will raise salaries to $71,829 for first-year officers and $75,402 for second-year officers, which the city notes represents 85% increases from when Hogsett took office in 2016.

  • The latest pay bump comes just months after Hogsett raised starting salaries to about $62,000 in his 2023 budget.
  • Officers on staff for at least three years will get a $2,500 retention bonus at the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the city also plans to hire three criminal attorneys who will work with the U.S. Attorney's Office to investigate and prosecute violent crimes.

  • Hogsett, a former U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Indiana, wants to subject repeat offenders to federal rules, where they are less likely to be released before trial.

Between the lines: The mayor's plan addresses his loudest critics, including Republicans and the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police, who have hammered Hogsett over a perceived lack of support for police and a "revolving door" of defendants who commit crimes while out on bail or electronic monitoring.

  • Jefferson Shreve, the Republican challenging Hogsett in the November mayoral election, blasted the mayor Wednesday for saying downtown is safe and continued the attack after Hogsett's speech.
  • ​​"The 'plan' he released today is another one of his toothless initiatives. An election year stunt and a slap in the faces of veteran police officers. After nearly eight years, the results are in, and Mayor Hogsett has failed," Shreve said in a statement Wednesday.

The big picture: Hogsett's speech sought to shift the conversation away from his performance on public safety and instead toward guns — a topic his mayoral campaign has attacked Shreve on.

Zoom in: Hogsett is asking the City-County Council to pass an ordinance banning the sale of assault-style rifles, raising the minimum purchase age for firearms from 18 to 21, and ending permitless carry and concealed carry of handguns in Marion County.

  • His proposal would also allow private groups to create "gun-free zones" for events on leased public property.

Yes, but: Indiana law prohibits cities from passing stricter gun rules than the state, which is increasingly permissive toward gun owners, so any such ordinance is moot even if passed.

💭 James' thought bubble: This is all about signaling the mayor's Democratic values.

What they're saying: "A glance at Washington, D.C., shows that no matter what party is in control, common sense gun safety measures, supported by a vast majority of Americans, simply wither on the political vine. I do not intend to allow that to happen," Hogsett said.

The bottom line: Hogsett is trying to show he's doing something about violent crime, while also pulling his Republican challenger into a gun conversation on the mayor's terms in Democratic-leaning Indianapolis.


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