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Ballard: Riggs a 'great choice' for public safety director

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A former police officer from Kentucky was officially named Indianapolis' new public safety director Tuesday, replacing an official who resigned amid criticism over his handling of the city's police department.

Mayor Greg Ballard announced at a news conference that he had selected 46-year-old Louisville native David "Troy" Riggs as the replacement for Frank Straub, who submitted his resignation in April but didn't depart until Aug. 10.

The official announcement of Riggs' hiring confirmed numerous reports of his selection that surfaced Monday.

A statement from the city of Indianapolis said Riggs has 22 years of experience in law enforcement and has served as a police officer, detective and police chief. The University of Louisville graduate currently is assistant city manager for safety, health and neighborhoods in Corpus Christi, Texas.

"I seek top-level experience and bold action from my public safety directors, and Troy perfectly fits that mold," Ballard said. "His experience on the street and in command and his leadership of multiple public safety agencies make him a great choice to help Indianapolis continue its drive for the best public safety team in the nation."

Riggs is scheduled to start work in Indianapolis on Oct. 29. Ballard said Riggs would serve as acting public safety director pending confirmation by the City-County Council. The new director will supervise the police and fire departments, homeland security, and animal control. He will oversee a $525 million budget.

Riggs told reporters he wants to boost the number of officers on city streets.

"I am very concerned about the lack of patrol officers," he said. "Patrol officers are the backbone of any police force. I'd like it to be up over 50 percent of the force." The department has about 1,600 uniformed officers, according to the city's website.

Fraternal Order of Police President Bill Owensby said he was optimistic after meeting with Riggs for 90 minutes Monday.

"I am very optimistic," Owensby said. "I like what I see. He has a good pedigree He is down to earth and has good administrative skills."

Straub announced his departure 11 days after the city's police chief resigned amid revelations that the department had mishandled a blood sample taken from a police officer accused of drunken driving in a fatal 2010 crash.

Since his appointment in 2009, Straub was dogged by trouble within the department, including claims of excessive force and the arrests of several officers on criminal charges. He claimed the incidents came to light because he took a hard stand against corruption. Earlier this month, he was hired as director of law enforcement for Spokane, Wash.
 

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