Police increase crackdown in northeast Indianapolis neighborhoods

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Police are using a show of force to take back the streets where an officer was shot and a man killed during a traffic stop.

Officer Bryan Zotz was shot Tuesday night while taking part in a special effort targeting illegal guns, drugs and violence near E. 36th Street and Sherman Drive.

Wednesday evening saw a bigger police presence in the area. Up and down the street all day long, there was a flood of people being pulled over.

"It was part of a bigger project we call the '46218 Project'," said Deputy Police Chief Scott Haslar, describing the operation that led to Officer Zotz's shooting.

46218 is the zip code in the troubled Martindale-Brightwood, Meadows and Forest Manor neighborhoods.

"We're expecting our officers to be highly visible and highly proactive," Haslar said. "And it's dangerous."

Zotz was part of a task force to stop the violence that's gripped the zone.

Last year, police say, 90 people in 46218 were shot. That equals 16 percent of all the people shot in Indianapolis.

"This is home. There is a sense of community that is here," said businessman David Townsend. "It hasn't always been this way."

But when Eyewitness News told him about the 90 shootings, he said "it doesn't come as a surprise because of the joblessness, the crime, the drugs, it's all relative to the area that we're in."

In a zone where liquor stores and churches seem everywhere, Townsend says the churches must lead.

"It's a shame. Black on black crime is the worst," said a woman who wouldn't give her name.

"The police got to do what they got to do. They do their job, but shoot," said a man named John, also coming from the post office.

But he and others worry about police profiling and fear pull-overs without cause.

As one man watched police cuff two suspects Wednesday, he said, "We just want to know why the harassment today."

Police don't see it as harassment, but as protecting people in the 46218 zip code - where the numbers tell a dangerous story.