Groups honored for tackling youth violence

INDIANAPOLIS - The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department hosted a 5k run on Saturday to raise funds to get teens into jobs and off the streets, part of a citywide "Your Life Matters" initiative.

Organizers said while the event was fun, it was designed to respond to serious issues of violence.

"We're tired of hearing everyday there's something going on," said Mary Smith, of Divine Emagination. "You hear someone is doing something towards stopping the violence, but we don't see that. We always see that someone was murdered."

 At the city's Windsor Park, young adults held a basketball tournament to unite teens in their northeast Indianapolis community.

"I know, as a teen, I really didn't listen to the adult figure if they told you to do x, y and z, but when you use one of your peers, someone that's in your age group, and you show them the positive way, then slowly but surely the children will start to follow," Smith said.

With 73 homicides so far this year, IMPD Chief Rick Hite says kids need safer, more positive things like this to take part it.

"We're starting a movement," Hite said. "We're asking communities to do exactly that: Find positive activities for young people to be involved in. If they're going to be out late – find structured activities."

Hite was on hand Saturday night to recognize the Masonic Lodge and Order of the Eastern Star for years of community outreach – particularly the groups' efforts to guide young men.

"A lot of our women have to raise their children on their own, and we're glad to see the Masons and the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis and other organizations step up and take on that responsibility," Hite said.

Hite said reactive arrests aren't enough to combat violent crime. Instead, he said it's going to take proactive measures and parental and community support.

The Public Safety Foundation has raised more than $20,000 for the Summer Jobs Program. Organizers say they need to raise more to help employ more teens and give them a safe way to spend their time.

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