Public safety cooperatives help keep neighborhoods secure
It's concern every family has no matter where you live: the potential to become the target of crime.
It costs them less per month than their cell phone bill or monthly alarm monitoring service, but hundreds of downtown residents are buying into a program where neighbors pay for extra protection.
Friday, in broad daylight, police stopped a potential burglary in progress at 20th St. and Central Ave.
"I don't know if you can ever have enough police presence when there's a lot of crime and opportunity for crime," said Shannon Liu. She's raising 4 children in downtown's Herron-Morton Place Neighborhood.
"I guess we kind of feel like that's the risk of living where we live and the benefits outweigh the risks," explained Liu.
Liu and her family have an alarm system. "We've had two sheds broken into, our vans been broken into three times," she said.
Blocks away from Liu, in Fall Creek Place, Ryan Strup's been through garage break-ins too, but has joined a public safety cooperative that pays for extra police protection.
"Everybody's kicking in a little cash to have an off-duty officer come around this way," said Strup.
Strup is one of a growing number of neighbors who've joined the King Park Public Safety Cooperative, started two years ago for six downtown neighborhoods the Old North Side, Herron-Morton, Fall Creek Place, Kennedy-King, Reagan Park and Friends and Neighbors.
"The reality is the bad guys don't care if taxes should be paying for it or not. They're still out doing their thing," said Brad Beaubien with the cooperative.
Now though, so are a group of off-duty IMPD police officers, paid by members of the cooperative to patrol and check out situations that look suspicious. Officers pay extra attention to homes that have cooperative signs outside, showing neighbors have paid for extra protection.
"We have caught burglars. We have caught scrap metal thieves. We have addressed prostitution," said Beaubien.
"We're not trying to do IMPD's job. We're trying to supplement it," Beaubien explained.
With a police department that's seen its number of officers decrease, "Anytime you're adding additional officers to supplement what's already out there, yeah, I think that definitely has a deterrent," said IMPD Public Information Officer Kendale Adams.
King Park isn't the only group paying for extra police protection. Some neighborhoods in Fishers are doing it.
So are residents in Meridian Hills and Williams Creek.
"I think it's a different time, and crime happens everywhere. And there are safety issues in every neighborhood," said Liu.
This mother hasn't bought into the cooperative idea just yet. "I think its very reasonable to say we would pay some more," Liu said.
That doesn't mean she won't, though, if crimes and arrests get any closer to home.