Indianapolis to allocate millions more for crime prevention as homicides continue to rise
In Indianapolis, the fight continues over how to address crime as homicides increase. Indianapolis Star
Indianapolis is directing another round of funding to boost its violence prevention efforts as the city continues to grapple with a record-setting increase in homicides.
The latest effort: $3.3 million for technology improvements in the police department and more community-based programs.
The funding announced Thursday follows a months-long effort with the New York University Criminal Justice Lab to pinpoint ways that the city could improve its public safety efforts.
The new funding also comes amid continued scrutiny from the Indianapolis Fraternal Order of Police and community members on how the city has handled violence.
Criminal homicides have increased each year since 2014, with the exception of a slight drop in 2019. Indianapolis sits at a total of 107 homicidesfor this year so far, surpassing year-to-date counts from last year.
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Mayor Joe Hogsett acknowledged that the funding won’t be a “magic wand” the city can wave to make the violence disappear. But he said the funding is responsive to the factors behind escalating gun violence.
“They are rooted in two major lessons that we have learned from a tumultuous last year,” Hogsett said, just hours after a man was shot and killed in a parking lot on the west side. “One: the city and our overall system of criminal justice has still far to go to earn the trust of every Indianapolis resident. Two: the pandemic led to heightened stress and often deep and profound loss. That all accompanied one of the largest spikes in deadly violence in our city’s history.”
When asked how he would measure whether the latest efforts prove successful, Hogsett said he would hope the number of gun violence incidents decreases — although that number has been increasing nearly every year even as the city has boosted funding efforts.
City-County Council Republicans, however, said in a statement that they fear the proposed solutions are just talk.
“Unfortunately, after a quick reading, much of what was announced today seems to be throwing more money at some of the same programs that clearly are not working,” the five-member caucus said. “If the mayor and Council Democrats want to get serious about reducing the historic levels of violent crime in Indianapolis, it is time we get all interested parties to the table to begin to work on a solution.”
Technology and community efforts
Roughly $1.5 million will provide technology improvements to the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.
That includes $550,000 for two enhanced technology systems — including one to more quickly record data for the department to consider when deploying resources.
Currently, information on incidents and potential crime hotspots is recorded at the district level by hand, which is time-intensive and leads to delays that can make the information a few weeks old by the time it reaches street patrols, said Assistant Chief Christopher Bailey.
Another system will allow the community to interact with officers for non-emergency situations in real time.
Another $620,000 will help pay for more staff to analyze such data, including a chief data officer.
And $170,000 will fund an automated officer intervention system that alerts supervisors when officers routinely deviate from department standards, allowing the department to stop potential wrongful behavior from an officer before the situation may escalate.
“Like many departments, IMPD uses many different systems in our daily work — intelligence-gathering, surveillance, dispatch, reports and more,” Chief Randall Taylor said. “And the data from those separate systems can be difficult sometimes to bring together.”
Meanwhile, nearly $1.8 million will fund a mixture of old and new community initiatives. That includes $370,000 for a new domestic violence reduction effort that will feature at least three domestic violence “interrupters.”
Local organizations serving at-risk youth will receive $390,000 for juvenile intervention efforts with a particular focus on mental health issues and trauma.
The city’s new Assessment and Intervention Center, which aims to divert people from the criminal justice system and instead offer various forms of assistance, will also receive $680,000 to addthree medics, three full-time clinicians and staff to assist with housing.
The funding — which comes from the city’s fund balance that the administration says is higher due to supplemental income taxes from 2020 and 2021 — requires approval from the Indianapolis City-County Council and will be discussed at the public safety and criminal justice committee on June 9.
Struggling with violence
The announcement is the latest iteration of the city’s attempt to curb violence, the increase of which has been one of the major criticisms of the Hogsett administration and the current council.
A 2020 report that was previously not shared with the public concluded that IMPD crime analysis units were working in silos and not sharing data.
Various stakeholders, including the probation office, IMPD and the prosecutors’ office, could also not agree on why gun violence has escalated to its current levels, the report concluded. That has made it difficult for the city to create an impactful plan.
The Democratic City-County Council has routinely relied on increased funding as one solution, boosting the existing crime prevention grant program under Hogsett from $1.86 million in 2016-17 to $3 million today. The administration also created a community-based violence prevention program funded at $300,000 annually.
This year the city added $1.25 million in grants awarded to city-county council districts based on need.
Council Republicans, however, criticized Thursday’s announcement as throwing more funding at the same ineffective programs. Hogsett’s administration did not brief any of the five Republican councilors, the caucus said in a statement.
“We hope an opportunity exists to work together to once again make Indianapolis a safe place for all to work and live,” the statement said.
Call IndyStar reporter Amelia Pak-Harvey at 317-444-6175 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AmeliaPakHarvey.
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Published at Thu, 03 Jun 2021 20:30:09 +0000