IMPD touts progress in efforts against violent crime
Indianapolis law enforcement is addressing violent crime with a plan put in place before the summer crime wave hit.
The Violent Crime Unit with the Indianapolis Metro Police Department worked with district officers, neighborhood resource officers, and community members to identify the most violent individuals in part of the city. IMPD says in those targeted areas, there has been a reduction in both non-fatal gunshot incidents and criminal homicides.
IMPD targeted the zip codes of 46222, 46208, 46205, 46218 and 46201. They are located north, east and west of downtown Indianapolis.
The Oxford neighborhood in the 46218 zip code is one of five that police say is the most violent in the city. The numbers police shared with reporters Wednesday show there's progress being made here.
In a news conference Wednesday afternoon, IMPD Chief Rick Hite said his department has been working with federal and community partners to run an undercover operation to rid these five target areas of crime, drugs and guns.
The chief says from early April until July, police officers have made more than 435 arrests for a total of 976 separate charges in just a two-square-mile area in Indianapolis. Those arrests were for serious, violent crimes and quality of life issues like prostitution and public intoxication.
Despite the increase in homicides throughout the city, there have been no murders in the target areas. The chief says that's due in part to the community stepping up and recognizing certain people have to go.
"We have to remember that they were here for a long time. Many of them have been here for decades. You've talked to them. You know them by name. You know their family history. We are making examples. They chose a life of crime; a family business. We are putting them out of business," said Chief Hite.
Every few houses on a street in the 46218 zip code are boarded up and have high grass. Police say it's a haven for criminals. It turns out there are a lot of criminals in this area, so that's where IMPD has focused its crime-fighting efforts. Neighbors have noticed.
"The police all make trips up and down this street quite often," said Myles Martin, Oxford neighborhood resident.
Martin, 83, has noticed Indianapolis Metro Police drive by his home "at least two to three times a day."
Martin's niece Sylvia Luckett also says she's noticed a difference in the Oxford neighborhood.
"He's been here a long time. I've seen a difference. I've seen a huge difference," said Luckett.
IMPD Deputy Chief Scott Hasler says police have seen homicides drop dramatically in the target areas.
"There have been zero criminal homicides in the five target areas. That's a 100-percent reduction in the grid area compared to a 50-percent increase in the homicide rate citywide," he said.
Police say partnerships with faith-based organizations like the Ten Point Coalition and direct conversations with teenagers has made these streets safer in the past three months.
"They are going to go after adults who gave guns to minors," said Chief Hite.
IMPD is also relying on good neighbors, and that's a plan Myles Martin supports.
"He watches. It's not just police. It takes a neighborhood and he's one of them," said Luckett.
Police will continue to have extra officers working in these high crime areas. To keep crime down in these target areas, police will focus more closely on quality of life. That means a home with tall weeds, boarded doors and windows is unsafe and Neighborhood Code will begin coming into these target areas to work with police to clean these streets up. Police will also address graffiti, inoperable street lights and trash.
Police seized 66 firearms and 13 cases have been referred to the US Attorney for prosecution. In the federal system, 85% of the sentenced time must be served.
Chief Hite says IMPD has identified "the worst of the worst in our community and we are taking steps to hold them accountable. This is not over, we have a long way to go, but rest assured we will make our neighborhoods safe for our children and our future."
Other stats from IMPD:
From January 1, 2012 to March 30, 2013 the identified areas accounted for 11% of the total number of non-fatal shootings city-wide and 14% of the criminal homicides where a gun was used.
During this project period, the number of non-fatal shooting incidents dropped to 6% and there have been no homicides in these areas.
Quality of life issues identified
- Graffiti 40
- Houses in need of board up 35
- High weeds/trash (vacant) 106
- High weeds/trash (occupied) 31
- Unsafe structures 3
- Street lights out 13