INDIANAPOLIS — IMPD has announced a new initiative that pays homage to fallen officer Breann Leath. The department has launched the LEATH Initiative in conjunction with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Indiana. LEATH stands for Law Enforcement Action to Halt domestic violence against men, women and children.
Officer Leath died in April in the line of duty while responding to a domestic violence run. She had been with IMPD for more than two years.
"The LEATH Initiative is our attempt to memorialize her, continue her work to aid victims of domestic violence, and to protect the law enforcement officers who are put in harm’s way responding to domestic disturbance calls," said Roland H. Herndon, Jr., special agent in charge of ATF’s Columbus Field Division. "Keeping firearms out of the hands of individuals with prior domestic violence convictions will make our whole community a safer place."
The LEATH Initiative will target domestic violence offenders who commit crimes with illegally owned guns. Those who have a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, are the subject of a final protective order, or have a state or federal felony conviction will be at the center of the investigations.
Federal law prohibits previous domestic violence offenders from legally possessing firearms or ammunition. Violators could face up to 10 years in federal prison.
The LEATH Initiative will also work to support victims of domestic violence. Officers will connect domestic survivors and witnesses with social services in their communities to help.
According to IMPD, domestic violence calls have skyrocketed in Indianapolis during the COVID-19 pandemic. During the first quarter of 2020, there were 6,664 domestic violence runs, compared to 3,130 during the same period in 2019.
IMPD Chief Randal Taylor said the increase in cases is not unique to Indianapolis, but it is unacceptable.
"Officer Breann Leath always went above and beyond in her service to others," Taylor said. "It is only fitting that an initiative named in her honor will provide our officers with the tools to better serve survivors of domestic violence and ensure those who sought to victimize them are held accountable."