INDIANAPOLIS -- Abandoned homes aren’t just an eyesore, people living near they say they’ve become a haven for crime in many areas across Indianapolis.
Tina Graham grew up in the Mars Hill neighborhood and says things have changed since she was a kid. With abandoned homes within blocks of her house and a rising crime rate, she’s afraid to let her grandchildren out to play some days.
“When I was a child I played on these streets,” Graham said. “There was never a problem. You wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Now, I can’t let my kids, my grandchildren go out of the yard because I don’t know what’s going on next-door.
Mayor Joe Hogsett says the city is aware that abandoned homes tend to be in areas that breed crime.
“They become havens for illicit drug activity and frankly, they become menaces to safety in those neighborhoods,” Hogsett said.
Hogsett hopes hiring a new Director of Community Violence Reduction will help them to identify these areas and find a solution.
Shonna Majors was hired as the Director of Community Violence Reduction.
“Where we struggle and where Shonna is going to help us is getting it back to that same community where there were people there that know Bryan Roach and the others and they also know now that the police are concerned,” said IMPD Chief Bryan Roach.
Indianapolis police say they are already working on fixing the street cameras in troubled neighborhoods to better patrol and respond to crimes.
Hogsett also announced his targeted enforcement plan for the summer that will focus on violent crime and prevention efforts.
The plan is designed to:
- Address the root causes of crime
- Disrupt the spread of violence
- Foster positive youth engagement.
Those efforts are part of Mayor Hogsett’s violence reduction strategy outlined below.
Project Safe Neighborhoods Juvenile Re-Entry Program
This new program aims to increase job readiness, improve employment and educational opportunities, and decrease the criminal activity of young adults ages 17 or older who are under supervision of the Marion Superior Juvenile Probation Department and have a history of association with a firearm, making them at heightened risk of committing or becoming a victim of a crime involving a gun. The program will couple case management with employment navigator services, occupational skills training, and financial coaching and embraces the ‘Earn While You Learn’ model – participants will earn a paycheck as they build the skills needed to achieve positive educational and employment outcomes. This effort is the result of a collaboration between OPHS, Marion Superior Juvenile Probation, Connections, Inc., and Edna Martin Christian Center. This program is funded by the PSN Board.
Targeted Enforcement in Neighborhoods
On April 23, IMPD returned to community-based beat policing, rolling out 78 beats across the city that are enabling officers to build relationships and trust within the neighborhoods they serve. These relationships, combined with enhanced analysis of crime data, allow for a deeper understanding of neighborhood-level crime trends and makes it possible for IMPD to target enforcement of violent offenders, particularly juveniles, who are at risk of involvement in a firearm crime. These targeted efforts include:
- Monitoring the daily release of high-risk juvenile offenders and conducting home visits with Marion County Probation targeted at juveniles involved in gun crimes.
- Ramped up staffing in the homicide unit and partnering across Indianapolis law enforcement agencies to consistently address and follow-up with individuals involved in all shootings and homicides.
- Providing daily beat missions to officers based on 24-hour crime trends. This intelligence is used to develop neighborhood-specific enforcement efforts to address the problems identified by commanders and shift supervisors.
- A Gun Liaison Program enhancing gun intelligence efforts to ensure the immediate and thorough investigation of gun crimes. The liaison officers on each district are specially-trained to process and collect crime guns to make sure proper forensic evidence is preserved for prosecution by the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Intervention with At-Risk Youth
Following a 2013 hiring freeze that saw IMPD lose roughly 10% of its operational force, Mayor Hogsett remains committed to hiring a net gain of 150 police officers – allowing for officers to spend more time engaging with at-risk youth through strategies that include:
- Positive programming such as Southeast Community District Resource Council’s Youth Leadership Academy and Mountain Bike Skills Park which aims to reach an additional 1200 young people in 2018.
- Identifying and partnering with groups that work to change young men’s lives.
- Social skills development for youth such as the Gang Resistance Education and Training program.
- Expanded access to wraparound social services for families with young adults through programs such as the Marion County IMPACT panel for parents and guardians of chronically truant students.
Neighborhood-Based Crime Prevention
IMPD’s neighborhood-based crime prevention efforts are designed to work in concert with the Community-Based Violence Prevention Partnership – a grant program administered by OPHS that will award nearly $300,000 in funding to community organizations to support evidence-based violence reduction programming and wraparound services. IMPD’s crime prevention efforts include:
- Additional bike and foot patrols across the city and directed patrols in high-crime neighborhoods.
- Continuing to expand the resources available to responding officers through innovative programs that address root causes of crime including homelessness, food insecurity, and poverty.
- ‘Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design’ educational programming for neighborhoods.
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