City leaders discuss crime on National Night Out

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City leaders are among dozens of police officers out in the community for Tuesday's National Night Out.

IMPD Chief Rick Hite says it is important for residents to come out of their homes and get to know their neighbors and the officers who patrol their neighborhoods to help fight crime close to their homes.

"Fear and faith cannot occupy the same space. We're not going to be fearful in the places we live. 'Open spaces and safe places' is what we're promoting," Hite said.

"Community is very important on this. National Night Out is very important on this. We need to make sure those relationships get tighter and tighter," said Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard.

The annual national event comes during a year where Indianapolis has experienced a rash of crime, including a near-record homicide rate and two IMPD officers shot and killed in the line of duty since last year's event.

But Hite says the crime numbers in the city are trending down, including homicides, and credits residents for doing their part. Part of that initiative is "The Blue Pledge" initiative from Eyewitness News, reminding residents if they see suspicious activity to call 911.

"Tip lines work. Communicating information by a variety of sources with our officers works and we're all here together," Hite said. "I think the morale is like the city right now. We're all coming out in full force to show the city we care. We still get out of our cars. We still show up at crime scenes. We're still making a difference. I think tonight is a good opportunity to have the community come out with us."

Several long-term solutions have been proposed to help fight crime in Indianapolis, including focusing on education and putting more officers on the street, but Hite says in the short-term, putting the worst offenders behind bars is the priority.

"We're at the point right now, we have to narrow it down to the 20 or 30, 40, 50 people who are really the ones were talking about right now, habitual offenders, violent offenders who really need to go away for a long period of time," he said.

"Those who use a gun offensively in the commission of a crime need to go away longer. That would help almost immediately and I hope we start moving a little more toward that," Ballard said.