Hundreds locked up as police target ‘worst of the worst’ with ‘Project Gotham’

This spring IMPD Deputy Chief Scott Haslar had had enough.

“I said I want guns, I want dope and I want crimes of violence out of these areas,” Haslar said.

Those areas where the five most violent communities in Indianapolis, stretching from Haughville west of the White River to the Mapleton-Fall Creek Area and along East 38th Street.

In April, IMPD launched Project Gotham, a series of targeted patrols aimed at the toughest people in the toughest neighborhoods.

“They’ve made a total of 435 arrests with 976 charges,” Haslar announced. “There were 57 crimes against persons with an additional 96 charges. There were 105 illicit drug offenses and an additional 69 firearms were taken out of these areas.”

During a news conference, Haslar and Chief Rick Hite stood at a podium behind seven large mugshots of offenders investigators called “the worst of the worst.”

“Seven were arrested on firearms charges. One was arrested for murder. One was arrested for dealing cocaine. One was arrested on parole violation for aggravated assault,” said Haslar.

“The collective experience of these people was a total of 177 felony arrests and a total of 187 misdemeanor arrests. These people aren’t new to the criminal justice system,” he said.

Since the launch of Project Gotham, IMPD said there have been no murders in the five target zones and non-fatal shootings have dropped by 50 percent.

Citywide murder is up 48 percent while aggravated assaults are down 15 percent and all crime is down 11 percent.

“The 400 some odd arrests made by our crack staff says we are in the right places at the right time,” said Hite. “We have to send a message that we want to see a mandatory minimum sentence in our community. We have to see them get the maximum amount of time because if they commit a heinous crime of murder, they should be put away.”

Haslar said the worst of the worst, while accumulating criminal records that, in one case, go back to the age of 12, have too often walked away from criminal charges.

“Of those 177 felony arrests, 50 of those felony arrests were dismissed. 52 were no-file. There were an additional 36 firearms charges on these individuals alone.”

Marion County Prosecutor said Project Gotham is an example of creative law enforcement to attack a critical problem, but he also said those gains will be lost without a sustained plan to follow up on the target zone successes.

U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett promised to file federal gun charges on more local cases brought to his office by IMPD and Curry’s staff. So far this year, Hogsett has prosecuted 14 Marion County cases federally with several others under consideration.

Project Gotham’s success was touted before a room full of east side neighbors at the Washington Park Community Center.

“I like it because the police department and the city officials are trying to deal with it before it gets out of hand,” said Tony Huerena of House of Restoration, a religion-based organization that counsels ex-felons, the homeless and drug-addicted.

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