Police add cameras, plan to close Broad Ripple Avenue on weekend nights

Residents of Broad Ripple say the area is much different during the day than at night.
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Mayor Greg Ballard has directed the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department to close Broad Ripple Avenue to motor vehicles from College to Guilford from midnight to 4 am on weekends through at least the summer.

The move comes after seven people were shot last Friday night. No arrests have been made in the shooting, although one man who was at the scene faces an unrelated weapons charge.

Pedestrians will still have to walk on the sidewalks, not in the street. Mayor's spokesman Marc Lotter said the goal is not to turn the avenue into a street festival.

Taxis and emergency vehicles will be allowed through.

The city is hoping to have the new policy in place by Friday night, but with the funeral for IMPD Officer Perry Renn happening Friday afternoon, Lotter said they're not sure if they will be able to get all the logistics together in time.

The decision followed a meeting with the Broad Ripple Village Association Thursday.

"The things that tend to be minor offenses-- If individuals feel like they can get away with the small things, the small things add up to big things," said Justin McKeand with the Broad Ripple Village Association. "If we can eliminate the small things, we feel like that helps us eliminate the large things."

Lotter says they meet with the association often.

Police set up cameras

Police will have more eyes in Broad Ripple starting Thursday night.

The City of Indianapolis Division of Homeland Security has connected two mobile cameras in the area. Shops there say the crime is now hurting business and they hope the cameras will help.

On Broad Ripple Avenue, Bebe Gate is used to greeting new parents and babies. Now, sales clerk Barbara Sitzman is greeting a new, less welcomed image.

"It seems like it's been every weekend," Sitzman said. "It's just getting worse. It doesn't seem to be getting better, there has to be a breaking point," Sitzman said.

That point may have come early Saturday morning.

Seven people were shot, allegedly because two people bumped into each other near the bars.

"That's why we close at 5:30, because it scares us that it's not worth staying open late because of all the crime and shootings that have been happening down here," Sitzman said.

Indianapolis has moved two of their three mobile cameras to the neighborhood for the weekend.

"They move, they pan, tilt, zoom," said Gary Coons, Chief of the Division of Homeland Security in Indianapolis.

One camera is stationed at Broad Ripple Avenue and Winthrop. The other is just down the street at College Avenue.

"Able to deploy those in areas where we normally don't have a camera and it just allows us to have an extra set of eyes during busy times," said Coons.

Indianapolis Homeland Security has been using the cameras since 2011. And officers control the cameras and watch in real time from the Regional Operations Center.

"It just adds an extra set of eyes. Broad Ripple is a great community," Coons said. "They're looking for anything that just does not seem right or people are acting differently. Looking for things that may not be right but could be occurring and radio in officers to get to that location."

"Let’s hope the cameras help. Something's got to turn things around," Sitzman said.

The portable cameras are used downtown, too, along with human eyes at ground level. Officers also use patrols, like those July 4 on the canal, to keep big crowds from forming. In big crowds, big trouble can brew.

Police say Broad Ripple sidewalks were so crowded last Saturday morning that some people brushed up against one another. At a time when too many people have guns and short fuses, those brushes turned into a shooting.