Ballard, Riggs attend White House violence conference

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WASHINGTON, DC – Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard was among more than a dozen U.S. mayors who met with President Obama at the White House Tuesday on the issue of youth violence.

The meeting was arranged by the administration last week, according to Ballard spokesman Marc Lotter. The meeting also got the attention of Gov. Mike Pence.

“I received word this morning that Mayor Ballard was called to a meeting at the White House today,” Pence said at a jobs announcement. “A meeting of mayors to talk about a very important issue affecting our youth in this country.”

Following the conference in the Roosevelt Room, Ballard was joined by Public Safety Director Troy Riggs for a meeting with Attorney General Eric Holder.

Lotter said Ballard came to the attention of the White House because of his involvement with Cities United, an organization of mayors focused on reducing black-on-black crime in American cities.

“I hope we’re looking at best practices with other mayors meeting with the president,” said Rev. Charles Harrison of the Ten Point Coalition. “I know there’s some good things we’re doing. I hope there are federal, state and local dollars that can be put to initiatives that are proven to help reduce youth violence.”

Harrison’s group will receive crime prevention resources Thursday when Riggs and the Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation announce recipients of $100,000 in funding donated by the Central Indiana Community Fund.

Ten Point Coalition will use that money to pay faith walkers who patrol downtown Indianapolis on Friday and Saturday nights as well as neighborhoods in the city’s hot zones for violence.

“When you’re out in the community talking to the kids I think they realize that the community is just not going to continue to tolerate this kind of reckless violence in the community,” said Harrison, “and you hear it in the streets.”

Indianapolis’ homicide rate has climbed nearly 37 percent compared to a year ago, though that increase has slowed.

In July, three teenagers died of gunshot wounds. Two teenagers, Sirquain Burr and Gabriel Edwards, face trial as adults for a cross-county crime spree last February that left one man dead and another man wounded.

This spring, IMPD launched Project Gotham which targeted “the worst of the worst” and resulted in dozens of arrests and the confiscation of nearly 70 guns in “hot zones” where an excessive number of violent crimes were reported.

Statistics show that by taking the worst offenders out of those neighborhoods, crime has been reduced in those communities.