Police call on citizens to aid public safety

Dr. Frank Straub
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Police officials are hoping citizens take an active role in helping prevent crimes like Saturday's shooting on the downtown canal.

When shots rang out along the canal Saturday around 10 p.m., police were already nearby.

"We had very good coverage downtown," said Public Safety Director Dr. Frank Straub.

Straub said the coverage was partially due to St. Patrick's Day events and the Supercross at Lucas Oil Stadium. He said that coverage may have contributed to saving the lives of two of the five teenage shooting victims, but maintains that police can only do so much.

"We're going to need the community to step up and take a more active role in public safety," Straub said.

It's a solution more imperative than ever, now that the city's public safety departments - both IMPD and the Marion County Sheriff's Department - face a combined $32 million budget deficit. That shortfall means cuts are inevitable, but exactly where is the unanswered question.

There are already fewer officers patrolling the streets than this time last year, which is why Straub points to community support, especially with big events.

"As examples, the Super Bowl and Black Expo, when the community locked arms with the police department," Straub said.

During Super Bowl weekend, volunteers filled the streets and there were calls to the public to act as watchdogs. At last year's Summer Celebration, following a shooting the year before in a crowded downtown street, hundreds of extra volunteers from several organizations joined officers at events.

As for Saturday night, where all the victims were minors, Straub said, "Parents need to be responsible for their children."

Straub says he's already received calls from ministers who are offering their help. He says it will take bi-partisan and union support to come to an agreement on the budget issues.