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Indianapolis adds dozens of 'peacemakers' to work with at-risk individuals

The community outreach workers will act as interrupters at crime scenes as well as life coaches, helping to reduce violence in Indianapolis neighborhoods.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indy's effort to curb a record year of gun violence begins this month. Starting next week, dozens of new community outreach workers will hit the streets in hopes of making a difference.

Fifty people from the Indy community will be working for the community. So far, 35 of them were hired this week to play a critical role in reducing violence in neighborhoods.

"All the people that came to the trainings, they've been doing this already," said Lauren Rodriguez, director for the Office of Public Health and Safety. "They just haven't been paid for it probably."

They're called peacemakers. They're working as interrupters at crime scenes, outreach workers within organizations and life coaches.

RELATED: Record 271 homicides in 2021 confirmed by IMPD

RELATED: Peacemakers to hit Indianapolis streets as part of gun violence reduction program

"Those positions require community trust," Rodriguez said. "That life coach will be there every day of their lives."

The goal is to reach those most at risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of violence. Those who meet six out of the following eight risk factors are considered very high risk:

  • 18-35 years old
  • Black or Latino
  • Criminal justice involvement
  • Unemployed or underemployed
  • Lack of basic education
  • Associated with a crew or group gang
  • Previously shot or familiar with gun activity
  • Has a close friend or family member shot in the last 12 months

"They are finding families within those areas. We want to be your new family," Rodriguez said.

13News first reported about the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform in the fall.

Applications for the 15 remaining positions continue to pour in to the city.

"Where every area is hard to find workers, this has not been hard. What has been hard is scheduling all the interviews so quickly," Rodriguez said.

It's a testament to the real work come Monday.

"You can't tell me I don't care about you when I'm constantly showing up, constantly pestering you, constantly touching base with you," Rodriguez said. "So, that's the goal of these outreach workers. That's the goal of these interrupters. That's the goal of these life coaches — making sure we're constantly present."

The city will pour $37.5 million — funded by the American Rescue Plan — into the peacemaker program in the next few years. They could add more peacemakers down the road.

MORE: Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett discusses new peacemakers as part of gun violence reduction

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