Mayor Fadness captured the city’s innovative spirit straight from the start. “When we give [teams] the right resources, it is incredible the compassion, competency, and innovation that comes from our public servants.” This sentiment echoed throughout the discussion about the recent work of the police, fire, and health departments and how they are fostering a dynamic and safe environment for its residents.
Innovation in Public Safety
Technology in Law Enforcement
The Fishers Police Department (FPD) is a leader in using cutting-edge technology for crime-solving, especially through its specialized Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Unit, commonly referred to as the “Catch a Predator” program. Earlier this year, this unit achieved a significant milestone. Acting on a tip about child pornography, they not only found explicit photos but also a disturbing video featuring a minor. Though the culprit didn’t show his face, he made a crucial mistake: waving his hand in front of the camera.
The investigative team used high-tech forensic methods to zoom in on a screenshot from the video, isolating and analyzing the fingerprints visible in the frame. This detailed work led to the suspect’s identification and immediate arrest. Due to such groundbreaking tactics, the unit has already rescued 14 young people from dangerous situations this year and identified numerous others at risk.
Adding to their impressive capabilities, FPD is one of only three law enforcement agencies in the state—one being the Indiana State Police—that can conduct DNA analysis in-house. This ability to analyze DNA on-site expedites investigations and enhances the validity of the evidence, making the FPD a true leader in modern, evidence-based policing.
The Fishers Fire & EMS Department (FFD) is among the best of the best, making it into the top 2% of fire departments across the country. What sets them apart is their advanced medical support on every emergency call. While many departments provide only basic Emergency Medical Services (EMS) on runs, FFD elevates its care by ensuring that Fishers fire apparatus responding to an emergency medical service run is staffed with at least one paramedic. Unlike EMS personnel, who are skilled in basic life support techniques such as CPR, splinting, and wound treatment, paramedics have the expertise to perform critical interventions requiring advanced life support.
This is a critical advantage in managing life-threatening situations, such as heart attacks. The nationally recognized gold standard for transporting a chest pain patient from a hospital entrance to the Catheterization Lab (Cath Lab) is one hour. Remarkably, Fishers consistently surpasses this standard, boasting response times that range from a mere 24 minutes to 55 minutes, measured from the initial 911 call to arrival at the Cath Lab. This exceptional performance not only exemplifies the department’s commitment to superior emergency care but also underscores the life-saving benefits of their advanced capabilities.
The FFD and FPD are working hand-in-hand on an innovative safety program called the High Threat Response Program. This program prepares them to handle dangerous situations like an active shooter more efficiently. Normally, police would secure the scene first, and then the Fire & EMS team would come in to help the injured.
But with the High Threat Response Program, Fishers does things differently. Fire and police teams are trained to work together from the start. They can quickly go into risky parts of a building during a threat. This means they can help and move injured people to safety faster, even if the threat isn’t over yet. This teamwork shows Fishers’ dedication to keeping its community safe in emergencies, raising the bar for safety standards everywhere.
Strategic Public Health & Safety Partnerships
Making the Grade: Retail Food Inspection Grading System
Fishers is serious about keeping its residents healthy, especially when it comes to food safety. The city’s Health Department has a new way of showing how clean and safe restaurants are, called the Retail Food Inspection Grading System. After inspecting a restaurant, they give it a letter grade, which is based on a 100-point scale. You can find these grades on the online dashboard, and soon you’ll see them posted on every restaurants’ front doors and drive-thru windows.
Fishers Health Department (FHD) Director, Monica Heltz, says this new system is a way to work closely with restaurant owners. It helps teach them not just what standards to follow, but why they are important for keeping customers safe. Fishers is the second city in the state to use this grading system, showing how much they care about the well-being of their community.
A Proactive Approach to the Public Safety Nuisance Order
Fishers City Council enacted the Public Safety Nuisance Order this year, aimed at proactively engaging with commercial businesses that have frequent 911 calls—another example of the city’s preventative approach to crime. The goal is to tackle recurring safety issues that deplete public resources and endanger the community. Businesses with a high number of complaints, citations, or emergency calls within 90 days could be deemed a public nuisance. This allows public safety to work collaboratively and have positive, proactive conversations with these businesses to develop specific plans to reduce emergency calls and mitigate situations. This new rule won’t affect schools, healthcare, or government locations.
Making Strides in Wellbeing & Mental Health
Fishers is taking innovative steps to enhance public health and safety by encouraging teamwork between different departments. One example is the new role of a social worker within the FHD. This social worker collaborates closely with the FFD’s special medical team, known as the community paramedicine team. Together, they ensure residents receive not only immediate medical attention but also help in resolving deeper issues affecting their well-being.
Another step the FHD has taken toward fostering an informed and empowered community is with the launch of its comprehensive Community Resources webpage. Accessible at Fishers Community Resources, the page serves as a one-stop shop for a wide array of information that residents may find useful. Whether you’re looking for healthcare options, food and housing assistance, or educational resources, the webpage has info from a variety of local organizations that can help. The site also features employment assistance programs, mental health resources, and valuable content for veterans and senior citizens. This webpage serves as an invaluable hub that is just one example of the city’s commitment to proactively meeting the diverse needs of its residents.
Earlier this year, the FHD took another leap forward in public health by revamping the StigmaFreeFishers.com website. They partnered with CredibleMind to offer residents free access to a treasure trove of reliable mental health resources. This includes articles, podcasts, and assessments, all carefully vetted by experts and users alike. The aim is to provide Fishers residents with a personalized, evidence-based resource hub for mental health, contributing to a healthier, safer community.
Economic and Community Development
While the discussion’s focus was public safety, Mayor Fadness also spoke on impressive economic growth within the city, garnering 10,000 new high-paying jobs since 2015 and a tenfold increase in planned biotech lab space by 2025. Moreover, Fishers has also prioritized quality of life for residents, adding 40 miles of new trails and greenways since 2015, all while enjoying three straight years of tax rate decreases, which continue next year with the proposed 2024 City budget.
This year’s State of the City address painted a picture of a community dedicated to innovation, public safety, and well-being. It’s clear that Fishers is not just talking about progress; it’s making it happen through strategic partnerships, compassionate public service, and a commitment to the betterment of the community. You can watch this year’s State of the City in full here.
Meet the Panelists
As a regional leader with decades of experience in law enforcement and the Fishers community, Chief Gebhart brings innovative practices to every aspect of modern-day law enforcement. As a result, Fishers is regarded as one of the safest cities in America.
With more than 40 years of public safety experience, Orusa has been Fishers Fire Department fire chief since 2011. As chief, Orusa has led efforts to improve firefighter & 1st responder safety & mental health; driven innovation in the fire service industry; and led disaster preparedness planning for Fishers.
Jumping into the role of public health director for Fishers in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Heltz brings innovative practices to public health with a focus on quality services, data-driven health outreach, and mental health supports unmatched in Indiana.