Indianapolis deploys task force to combat escalating crime

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The murder rate this year in Indianapolis is ahead of the last year's figures at this time, and public safety officials are concerned. The city has a new plan to curb violent crime, and city leaders will announce a new task force Thursday.

Indianapolis' homicide rate so far this year is just one of the reasons the public safety director is putting together the Violent Crimes Efficiency Team.

From January 1, 2012 to March 9, 2012, 22 people were victims of homicide in Indianapolis. 2013 has already exceeded that number with 29 homicides.

The latest happened Wednesday afternoon when someone shot and killed 21-year-old Robert Mitcham. His cousin says he drove Mitcham to the Lafayette Square Mall to meet someone. The shooting happened in the mall parking lot.

Mitcham's death is the city's 29th homicide for 2013. People who live and work in Indianapolis are anxious to find out how police will help make our city safer.

"I do find it disturbing in a city like Indianapolis that we have a higher murder rate than a city like New York City, so that tells me that there is obviously a problem there that I would like to see addressed in a very specific way. I am happy that there is a task force," said Deborah Pollack-Milgate, Indianapolis resident.

Public safety director Troy Riggs hopes the answer to that problem starts with his new violent crime review team. Riggs thinks stopping violent crimes starts by getting officers to focus on young kids and convicted felons alike.

"They will be tasked with reviewing and developing action plans, ranging from truancy to re-entry. Let me say that again, from truancy to re-entry," he said.

After a life of crime, which includes six felony convictions, re-entry is what 32-year-old Jeremy Roberts says he needs. He says if police look beyond violent crime scenes, they are likely to find a common thread.

"Some of them have drug problems, some of them are just at the poverty level," Roberts said.

The Violent Crimes Efficiency Team will also investigate reports of rapes, robberies and aggravated assaults in the City of Indianapolis and formulate a game plan.

"Something as simple as making sure we have youth who can stay out of trouble and have options other than going out on the street," said Pollack-Milgate.

Even police agree if they can prevent violent crime among young people, it could help lower crime numbers for the future.

The team's initial meeting takes place Friday, March 15, 2013.

The team of about 30, led by IMPD Chief Rick Hite, will consist of members from various agencies, including law enforcement and criminal justice officials as well as community representatives like the 10-Point Coalition.

Chief Hite also will appoint sub-committees comprised of public safety professionals, other experts and relevant community partners to address/review specific areas of concern: 

  • Summer 2013  Action Plan
  • Probation fees and technical rules violations
  • Youth violence
  • 2012 Marion County aggravated assaults review
  • Current gun laws
  • Current re-entry activities
  • 2012 Marion County shootings review
  • Grant funding for crime prevention initiatives
  • Evaluate past Indianapolis Violence Reduction Programs (IVRP) and make recommendations for developing a new violence reduction plan
  • Programs for children who are witnesses of abuse
  • Mental illness and impacts to the community

The team will submit a draft of its 2013 Summer Plan by May 1st. The final plan is due May 31.  Information pertaining to the team's work, recommendations, and implementation of findings will be available here.

The public is encouraged to email the Department of Public Safety to submit thoughts, concerns or to ask questions regarding the efficiency teams.

Mall violence

A few days ago, Indianapolis Metro Police outlined plans to deal with growing problems of teen violence at local shopping malls. 

Mall security is handing the letter to parents as they come to the mall with their teenagers It also spells out a code of conduct, like no fighting, threatening and no weapons. It warns that violators could be arrested and banned from the mall.

Officers will be enforcing a "no more than four" policy, where groups of more than four unattended teenagers will be sent home.

Last Saturday, five teens were arrested during a fight that started at Castleton Square Mall and finished across 82nd Street. Police found alcohol and two handguns during that incident.

In January, a 17-year-old male fired shots outside Circle Centre Mall downtown, striking a glass window on the Artsgarden.

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Metro police also pleaded with parents to be more responsible for their teenaged children.