Crime focus of mayoral debate

Mayor Tom Henry and City Councilman Mitch Harper participating in the mayoral debate.
Mayor Tom Henry and City Councilman Mitch Harper participating in the mayoral debate.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – With four shooting deaths in just the past four days in Fort Wayne, it’s no surprise that crime was a major topic during Monday’s mayoral debate. Incumbent Democratic Mayor Tom Henry and Republican City Councilman Mitch Harper have very different approaches to the city’s crime.

“We’ve got a top-heavy police administration,” Harper said. “We’re still at the same level of police officers we were at the beginning of his administration. We’ve not moved beyond that. We’ve had a reserve officer program that’s been taken down to six officers from 60.”

Harper said he would add 50 more officers to the force and more than 50 reserve officers. However, Henry said more boots on the ground isn’t the way to go, instead training officers should be the focus to curb crime.

“That’s not the answer at all,” Henry said. “In fact more and more the Department of Justice, the FBI and other agencies are saying that this hiring police officers per capita is not a good way.”

Public Safety was one of three topic areas debated. Downtown and community development and the future of Fort Wayne were the others. When it came to jobs, the two candidates agreed on the need for more, but they didn’t see eye to eye on the current job climate.

“The state of Indiana has a record number of people employed in the state of Indiana and in the Fort Wayne metropolitan area we’re still down in 2007 when the mayor took office,” Harper said.

Harper says there are 4,000 fewer jobs, but Henry said that’s not the case.

“Right now we’re down 4.1 percent,” Henry said. “That report came out today. We have added 5,000 new jobs in Fort Wayne since 2011.”

To watch the entire debate click here.

Election day is Nov. 3.