By Troy Riggs
Indianapolis Public Safety Director
In 1988, I needed a job. College graduation loomed in the future, and my prayers focused on finding a career. Service to others was always a focus of my family. It was then that I saw a position opening for a police officer. After nine months of testing, I was hired and ultimately became a police officer.
At 23 years of age, I really didn’t understand the risks associated with the position. My family, friends, and fiancé seemed to worry about my safety much more than I did. I had no idea how much my family would worry and, at times, suffer from my decisions. Even with the injuries, critical incidents, and accidents, I never really thought too much about my safety. It was, however, always present in the minds and prayers of my family.
“It was then that I realized that I was in many ways responsible for the safety of others.”
As I progressed through my career, my family worried less since I was moving up through the chain of command. However, it was then that I realized that I was in many ways responsible for the safety of others. I was, and am still, concerned about the safety of the community and the employees that I have been entrusted to lead. Now, I find myself worrying and praying for their safety.
The risks associated with first responders are enormous. Not only are their jobs dangerous, but the job can adversely affect their personal lives. Rates of cancer, heart disease, suicide, and divorce are all higher for first responders. Once again, I had no idea that these were issues until I became a supervisor and witnessed the devastating effects of the job.
“I am certain that by working together, we will be successful at reducing the risks to our community.”
After 24 years of service, God has blessed my family by allowing us to live in one of America’s greatest cities and to work with the finest public safety professionals in America. The fiancé who prayed for my safety and who has offered me emotional support throughout my career has been my wife of 23 years and mother to my two boys. As for my future, I will continue to work with our community and employees to deal with the complex issues that face our city and nation. I am certain that by working together, we will be successful at reducing the risks to our community.
As far as my family’s and my future, I have no idea what challenges lay ahead, but God does. I do know that faith, prayer, and family have sustained me this far and will continue to do so in the future.