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Mayor Hogsett, city leaders update progress of gun violence reduction strategy

Mayor Joe Hogsett spoke Tuesday at the MLT Center, a community outreach facility that received one of the city's Elevation Grants.

INDIANAPOLIS — Rayvon Smith, of Indianapolis, said he didn't know what kind of future he would have after he was kicked out of school.

"They told me I wouldn't graduate, and it was over," Smith said.  

But Smith said he found help at Mackida Loveal & Trip Mentoring Outreach Center.

"I came to this program and I had way more hope to graduate, and they changed my mindset so much," Smith said.

The MLT Center partners with schools to offer teens education, therapy, art, life skills, mentoring and more.

"If they're still in a structured, trauma-sensitive learning environment, we're keeping them out of the streets. Because if they are expelled from school, they're at home. Parents are at work. Then, we have unsupervised youth," said LaShauna Triplett, executive director of the MLT Center.

The MLT Center is also a recipient of Mayor Joe Hogsett's Elevation Grants.

On Tuesday, city leaders gathered at the MLT Center to give an update on their gun violence reduction strategy. Hogsett announced the strategy in 2021, powered by $150 million in American Rescue Plan funds.

The plan allows for law enforcement investments, up to 40 IMPD civilian positions, to cover non-emergencies. Top of mind is the $45 million for grassroots violence prevention organizations.

Hogsett said criminal homicides were down 16%.

"For families who continue to be impacted by violence, the only number that truly matters to them is one — the one whom they've lost — and I am sensitive to how a report of progress may sound to those families. That is why the city will never be content with a measure of progress, however significant that measure may indeed be," Hogsett said.  

According to Hogsett, city leaders will take what they learned during 2021 and will work with continued declines in crime.

Triplett said everyone needs to be educated, especially when it comes to guns and gun laws.

"We make guns look fancy. As adults, we make them look appealing, so how do we begin to turn that mindset around? We have to educate [teens] on guns and the safety of guns. That's where it's going to begin," Triplett said.

For Smith, the beginning of his change came when he found MLT.

"When I got to this program they made me think differently. Like, it was more to life than just giving up. I couldn't give up. They wouldn't let me give up," Smith said.

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