INDIANAPOLIS -- Mayor Joe Hogsett says he will ask the Indianapolis City-County Council for an additional $3 million in public safety funding as the city is poised to see its seventh-consecutive year of homicide increases.
Indianapolis set its all-time criminal homicide record last year with 149 murders in the city. That broke the record of 144, set just the year before. As of this writing, Indianapolis had seen 148 murders in 2017 and was on track to again break the previous year’s record.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, Hogsett called the violence “heartbreaking.”
“It is maddening, it is senseless and it is unacceptable,” Hogsett said.
The mayor said Indianapolis will have more police officers on the street next year than it has in 10 years. Hogsett says that will allow IMPD to expand its beat policing system that he credits for significant reductions in homicides in the Martindale-Brightwood and Near Eastside neighborhoods.
"Our hope is the community will see it as their responsibility also,” IMPD Chief Bryan Roach said. “That communication, that engagement with beat policing will allow us as police officers to maybe understand what is going on a little better."
Following the press conference, Hogsett released a written outline of his 2018 crime-fighting plan. It calls for:
Crackdown on Illegal Possession of Guns by Violent Criminals
IMPD will disrupt the spread of violence by targeting the cycle of drugs and illegally-possessed firearms in neighborhoods. This will include a focus on:
Working with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to identify and prosecute violent offenders who have illegally armed themselves.
Coordinating with United States Attorney Josh Minkler’s office to assign multiple Assistant United States Attorneys to each IMPD district, developing federal cases against those involved in gun violence and their associates.
Establishing a Crime Gun Intelligence Center to connect shell casings and firearms in real-time to better inform local law enforcement intelligence.
Encouraging communication between street-level community activists and neighborhood leaders to identify individuals who are encouraging violent behavior – and those seeking to escape the cycle of violence.
This initiative invests in neighborhood-based programs currently combatting the spread of violence. Community liaisons will work with IMPD to engage violent felons and their known associates with positive community engagement. This will include:
The hiring of a Director of Community Violence Reduction to coordinate and manage the community intervention component between law enforcement partners, community groups, and neighborhoods.
The hiring of four Indy Peacemakers – activists from local neighborhoods with diverse backgrounds that give them credibility at the street level – to provide day-to-day operational assistance to neighborhoods and community groups engaged in violence prevention.
A partnership with IMPD District Councils to focus on individuals at risk of committing a violent crime, or be a victim of one, and their known associates for targeted intervention by community members.
Expanded Access to Social Services
By expanding and focusing resources in targeted areas, wrap-around services for violence prevention can be directed at those most in need. New initiatives include:
Partnering with local hospitals to expand Ezkenazi Hospital’s Prescription for Hope model, meeting victims of violent crimes when they enter the emergency room and connecting them with social services.
Investing approximately $300,000 a year for the next three years into our neighborhoods to support evidence-based violence prevention and reduction strategies and services.
Providing capacity building training and technical assistance to neighborhood organizations and IMPD’s District Council to develop and implement evidence-based violence reduction strategies.
For Hogsett, who ran heavily on his experience as a federal prosecutor and his promise to turn the city’s homicide numbers around, 2018 will be a do-or-die year. For the neighborhoods of Indianapolis hardest-hit by the past decade of increasing violence, it will be a year, once again, that seeks to answer the question of just what can turn the trend around.