Indy woman receives award for fighting crime in her neighborhood

Rachel Cooper fough back against gangs, drugs

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis Metro Police took part in a national initiative to make neighborhoods more safe while bring communities closer together.

National Night Out began Tuesday and one Indianapolis woman was honored as Crime Fighter of the Year by her neighbors.

Related Story: National Night Out 

Rachel Cooper steered an effort to close 150 drug houses in her southeast-side neighborhood. Cooper said she decided to take back her neighborhood from gang members and drug dealers.

"It takes a lot of gut, but if you want to be part of the neighborhood and you want your neighborhood back for kids and seniors, you have to go out on front street. I'm out on front street every day," Cooper said.

Cooper and a group of other neighborhood organizers across all of IMPD's districts received the honor and were recognized by Mayor Greg Ballard.

"These are people who've been there a long time and continue to do good work. If we could multiply that by a big number, it'd make a huge difference in the city," Ballard said.

Police call Rachel Cooper the "mouth of the south." For 20 years, she's guided the southeast community organization by not just making her neighborhood safe from criminals, but by changing a culture.

"We as residents have to take back our community. It's not up to the police. We can partner with police but they can't do it all," Cooper said.

For more information on how Indy citizens can fight back against violence, visit the RTV6 "Our Streets, Our Stories" page.

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