Indianapolis Violent Crime Unit tackles violent crime '1 percenters'

6-year effort results in more than 2,000 arrests

INDIANAPOLIS - Just 1 percent of Indianapolis' population is responsible for more than half of the city's crime, Indianapolis officials say, and the city is six years into an initiative aimed at getting those criminals off the streets.

Over those six years, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's Violent Crime Unit has made more than 2,000 arrests, with the majority of suspects wanted for murder.

The unit specializes in criminal tracking, surveillance and finding the perpetrators of violence in Indianapolis.

IMPD has become more proactive than reactive, and as part of the proactive push, crime analysts have studied every shooting over a two-year period that didn't result in a fatality.

Last year, Indianapolis had slightly more than one shooting a day that was not fatal. In those cases, 46 percent of victims, mostly black males, refused to cooperate with police.

Most of the victims of nonfatal shootings were between the ages of 15 and 34.

"This week's suspect is next week's victim," said Capt. David Allender, head of IMPD covert operations. "We're trying to come up with some very innovative ways to break into that and stop the cycle."

IMPD's analysis of criminal histories, relationships between victims and suspects and likelihood of more offenses aims to both predict and prevent violent crime.

"When we look at high crime areas, we look at who's on probation, who's on parole, and we'll look at our frequent flyers that are involved in a lot of the disorder that's going on -- the crime in the neighborhood -- and we'll pay those folks a visit," said Maj. Tom Kern, who analyzes crime data for the department.

The Violent Crime Unit has stepped up the pressure, using multiple agencies to target Indianapolis' most troubled ZIP codes for up to 24 hours at a time.

An example of the unit's work was the recent arrest of Shawn Wilson in the January shooting death of Daniel Jaffke, a Papa John's delivery driver. 

"He told me he was going to turn himself in. Now, we've been told that before. We're kind of 50-50 on it," said Detective Mike Condon, of the Violent Crime Unit. "Something told me he wasn't going to turn himself in."

The search took four days and included traffic stops and visits to the homes of Wilson's family members and known associates.

Wilson's two-week run from police ended with his arrest at a home on Indianapolis' far-southwest side. The Violent Crime Unit also recovered a handgun they believe was used in the killing, methamphetamine and a stolen pickup truck.

Police said the effort shows the public that the department has engaged the community's high-crime areas and is getting results.

"We're working long hours. We're putting people in jail," said Detective Matt Stevenson, an investigator with the Violent Crime Unit. "We are preventing a lot of things from happening."

Police are realistic that they won't be able to stop every killing or shooting, but they say that won't stop them from trying.

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