IMPD chief presents plan to make downtown Indianapolis safer

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Saturday night was an all too familiar scene at Circle Centre Mall as an officer led away a shooting suspect in handcuffs.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department was called to the area after a gun was fired outside the mall. No one was injured, but the shooting occurred at around 7:30 pm at a busy downtown intersection at Capitol and Maryland.

IMPD Chief Rick Hite told Eyewitness News that the problem of teenagers with guns is "urban terrorism." This issue in the mall area of downtown Indianapolis has plagued IMPD for years.

In 2011, two teenagers were shot on Illinois Street minutes after the mall closed. In addition, on St. Patrick's Day last year, five teens were shot along the canal.

Former IMPD Chief of Police Paul Ciesielski faced the same issue of teenagers with little to do and no place to go.

An Eyewitness News investigation showed teenage violence all the way back to 2006, from fights outside the mall to a shooting on an IndyGo bus.

Chief Hite knows all too well of the systemic issues that him and his officers are facing, but he has a plan, noting that a more "strict enforcement of the letter of the law has to be up."

Hite knows the mall has become a recreation center for teenagers. He is questioning whether the mall food courts, which is often where teens hangout, needs to be open until the mall closes.

While the solutions are not easy and they may not come as quickly as some want, he notes that "children are not born with guns in their hands." Hite wants to know, "where are they getting the weapons from and who is giving them the weapons."

Hite says going to the root of problem is the best solution. On his side, he has officers working the neighborhoods where repeat juvenile offenders live. According to Hite, this way the problems are stopped in the neighborhoods before coming to the busy streets downtown.

He knows people will still be fearful of downtown, and to those people, he says, "Call me. I will walk with you."