INDIANAPOLIS — As of last week, non-fatal shooting incidents in Indianapolis had increased by fifty percent over January of a year ago.
Homicide numbers are up, too, but not necessarily murders as self-defense and accidental discharge shootings have taken several lives, especially among young people.
During an update on the Indianapolis Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, Mayor Joe Hogsett agreed that while overall homicides were down 16% in 2022 compared to the year before, the City may have to alter its strategy to account for gun safety in addition to simply attacking firearms violence.
”We will change with the changing times and we will remain focused intently and intensively…on murders or criminal intentional homicides.”
American Recovery Plan Act funds provided Hogsett with the lion’s share of his $150 million commitment to public safety, including $45 million over three years to community anti-violence programs, $9 million in improved police technology and enough money to hire an additional 100 IMPD officers plus beefed-up mental health and re-entry services.
”We were in 13 cities around the country and there is not one that is more dedicated, and some of this is numeric, the highest per capita investment of ARPA dollars in violence reduction,” said David Muhammad, executive director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform who is the City’s consultant on community anti-violence strategies.
Lauren Rodriguez, deputy mayor of Public Health and Safety, said in the coming year the City will focus increasingly on cleaning up the environments where crime flourishes.
”So we are looking forward to collaborating with all city agencies, health department and community organizations, to actually get to the root causes of what could possibility be the reasons why people feel unsafe in their areas. See how the city can help. How can the city help in terms of broken street lights or shrubbery that you can’t look past in case somebody runs in your backyard.”
Rodriguez just hired eight more peacemakers to add to her staff of violence interrupters, mentors and life coaches who attempt to head off retaliation attacks or steer at-risk persons away from potential violence with counseling and job training and referrals.
The mayor’s update was held at the Mackida Loveal & TRIP Outreach Center on North Sherman Drive which last year received $180,000 in an Elevation Grant to address food insecurity, personal counseling and referral and mentoring of at-risk youth exiting the Marion County Juvenile system.
”Right now crime is up because, what do we do? We make guns look fancy,” said Executive Director Lashauna Triplett. “As adults, we make them look okay, so how do we begin to turn that mindset around? We can’t lower our crime among juveniles until we earn their trust and let them know that their lives do matter, and we have to educate them on guns and the safety of guns.”
In the wake of last summer’s repeal of Indiana’s gun permit law, Marion County Prosecutor Ryan Mears said illegal gun possession prosecutions by his office have fallen and IMPD reports its responses to unintentional self-inflicted gunshot wounds have gone up.