By Ann Marie Shambaugh
With a career spanning nearly four decades in law enforcement, Zionsville Police Dept. Chief Robert Knox said he’d like to look back on at least one year as a nice, quiet one.
2016 was not that year.
“2016 has been terrible,” he said. “We started out with the double homicide out west in the rural area, and I don’t have the words to describe that. Sept. 28 Jack Clements got killed. It’s like there’s no rhyme or reason to any of this awfulness.”
Zionsville had been without a murder since 1997, but in 2016 it saw three of them. On Feb. 17, Lucius Hamilton III shot his niece, Katherine Hamilton Giehll, and her 4-year-old son, Raymond Peter Giehll, before taking his own life after standoff with police in downtown Indianapolis. Investigators believe the motive was inheritance money.
In September, 82-year-old Jack Clements was fatally shot while checking his mail. Witness accounts and other evidence eventually led police to Damoine Wilcoxson, 21, who was arrested Oct. 31 and charged with murder. Police believe Clements was targeted randomly. Wilcoxson also faces charges stemming from two incidents where he is accused of firing shots at Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Dept. headquarters buildings.
These are the crimes most people will remember, but Zionsville officers received more than 3,800 more calls for service in 2016 than they did the previous year. And they were forced to handle them short-staffed.
The Jan. 1 implementation of a countywide income tax for public safety will put more officers on the streets, but Knox expects officers to continue to stay busy in the year ahead with additional growth expected in and near Zionsville and a sharp rise in drug use in the county.
As for violent crime, whether or not 2016 was an anomaly, he doesn’t know.
“If I was to say no, I don’t expect a rise, it would be a little bit of burying my head in the sand. I don’t think it’s going to rise and go off the charts,” he said. “But I’ve always got to be prepared the best I can with the resources I have at my disposal.”
No matter what the new year brings, Knox is confident in the department’s ability to handle it.
“I’m just so honored to serve with them, because they’re so dedicated and they really want to be good police officers,” Knox said. “They take ownership and they’re proud, and as an old police chief here that does my heart good to see that. They’ve stepped up and answered the call every time without falter. But it’s been a pretty trying year.”