Community crime fighting plan aims at root of problems

Dozens of residents attended a meeting for the community-based crime fighting program.
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A new community-based crime reduction plan takes a hard look at violent crime Indianapolis, the causes for it and ways to stop the violence. It is hailed at a plan "for the people and by the people."

IMPD crime statistics show nearly half of all the murders occur in just five areas of the city. Michael Hendricks grew up in the deadliest.

"I've been shot I've been stabbed, I've been cut," he said.

Instead of a mug shot or an obituary, Hendricks' picture is on the wall with other graduates of Youth Build Indy. The organization is dedicated to straightening out troubled kids.

"Kids growing up don't have too much guidance at home, so they believe they can guide themselves," the 21-year-old Hendricks said.

In another room, program director Clint Johnson interviewed a prospective student.

"I want you to tell me about yourself," he said to a young woman sitting a few feet away.

"I was a foster child. I was angry, upset," she answered.

Johnson praised the new community-based crime prevention initiative.

"It provides care, direction, inspiration and most of this plan provides hope," he told dozens of community leaders gathered for the announcement.

Dozens of neighborhood and community groups, churches, schools and public safety agencies propose targeting the root causes of crime. The plan includes help for parents and families. Mentors and job programs for teens, more cooperation between police and neighborhoods and better uses of resources.

The study found 43 different community groups getting crime prevention dollars, but no evidence of them coordinating their efforts or comparing notes.

Sabrina Stennette wants the city to sign on. Her son, a college student, was shot to death in 2012.

"You can't say, 'I live in this neighborhood, it is not going to happen to me.' It affects anybody at any time," she said.

The plan is modeled after similar crime fighting proposals in Minneapolis and Memphis. They are credited for reducing violent youth crime by as much as 60 percent.

Indianapolis' Citywide Crime Prevention & Reduction Plan is ambitious, but there is no estimate of cost. To implement the programs, planners say the city will require additional money, but don't identify where they will come from. Armed with a plan, city and community leaders will now have to find the funds and fortitude to carry it out.