OneIndy program aims to stop youth violence

INDIANAPOLIS - The Department of Public Safety and the Peace Learning Center of Indianapolis are putting together a strategy to decrease the violence in the Circle City.

The project is called OneIndy and its goals are simple:

To build better relationships between the police and the public, and to reduce violence through conflict resolution.

The violence-reduction initiative has targeted 42nd Street and Post Road, and five other crime-challenged neighborhoods. In this area, residents are seven times more likely to become the victim of a homicide and five times more likely to be the victim of a shooting than other Indianapolis neighborhoods.

Resident Daisha Martin said the program is a great idea to keep everyone safe.

"Some in the city don't really care about the youth because they don't want to deal with us because they live in a better part of the city. They're not trying to help the bad part. So, they need to get more involved with the bad part and help kids that really need it," Martin said.

The city is searching for alternatives for kids and parents other than just going to downtown and suburban malls on weekends where fights and shootings have erupted.

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Student Terrance Groves said the program could have a positive-domino effect.

"If kids were occupied in more after-school activities like open gyms, more kids would be out of trouble. We'd see fewer deaths in the world," Groves said.

In 2012, three Indianapolis youth 18 and younger were victims of homicides.

In 2014, the number grew to 13 youths under the age of 18 killed in homicides.

Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs said that currently, more than drugs, more than robberies and other crime, the inability to peacefully resolve a conflict has become the leading cause of violent death in Indianapolis.

"We've had people who have been shot by others over a fight. People are dying over cellphones. We have to value life. We have to talk conflict resolution for young people as well," Riggs said.

The program has a goal of reducing fights, bullying and other acts of violence in nine Indianapolis Public Schools by 50 percent.

The program also wants to engage parents to help stop the violence.

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