The Mayor of Hinchtown became the Director of Public Safety of Indianapolis on Tuesday. Kicking off the month of May celebrations surrounding the Indianapolis 500, James Hinchcliffe, who now resides in Indianapolis, got an inside glimpse of what current Director Troy Riggs experiences on a daily basis and the steps he goes through to prepare for the 500-mile event at the end of each May.
"We get to do a lot of cool things as IndyCar drivers, but today was one of the coolest things I've been able to do," the two-time IZOD IndyCar Series race winner said. "Getting an inside look at how the city keeps the public safe, all the assets they have at their disposal, the cooperation between all the different agencies, it really was eye opening. You could really see the passion that each person had for their job, and that's a good thing when we are talking about keeping a city safe! A huge thanks to Director Riggs and everyone who contributed to our day. I'll definitely sleep better knowing who is watching our backs!"
Hinchcliffe had the opportunity to visit city center where he sat in on a short meeting to kick off the day. The Toronto native received his very own nameplate (his first one!) and got to sit in Director Riggs’ chair. From there he traveled to Survive Alive – a firehouse built in 1871 that has since been converted into a building to bring school children and families to learn about fire safety. The program sees 12,000 to 15,000 children a year and has helped lower the rate of child deaths due to fire from four children to less than one child a year; the Survive Alive on Massachusetts Avenue in downtown Indy has been open since 1995.
Following the visit to Survive Alive, Hinch made his way to Firehouse 7 where he was able to meet some of Indy’s finest firefighters and EMS. The Police Academy came next where James was able to tour bomb squad trucks, meet with animal control and their K-9 unit, as well as engage in a shooting simulator and driving simulator (where the Sao Paulo Indy 300 race winner drove into a house while in pursuit of a suspect – oops!). A meeting with the directors of many of Indianapolis’ agencies (Homeland Security, EMS, Firefighter, Police, Animal Control amongst others) concluded the day. The 26-year-old learned much about how Indy is run – 300 firefighters are on duty at any point, response time for IFD is three minutes and two seconds, Indy’s EMS teaches CPR to approximately 1,200 children a year and Homeland Security is present at the Indy 500 each year although you may not see them.
Although James enjoyed his day learning about the ins and outs of how the city of Indy is run and protected on a daily basis, the IZOD IndyCar Series driver plans to stick to his day job and leave the protecting to the professionals while appreciating all the efforts they put in to keeping the great city of Indy safe.