Crime, city’s livability focus of Mayor’s State of the City address
INDIANAPOLIS – Crime in the city is top of mind for residents and for Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard. He addressed the issue Thursday night during the State of the City address, including an uptick in the number of homicides.
After years of record lows, 2013 saw 125 criminal homicides, so far in 2014 we are sitting at 27.
Mayor Ballard acknowledged preventing crime is a total community effort that involves better community partnerships and stronger re-entry programs for people leaving prison. The city is in the process of getting more police on the front lines.
“You should know that while the number of homicides increased, we had fewer shootings, fewer break-ins, fewer rapes, and fewer assaults,” he noted.
It’s the silver lining to a deadly year in Indianapolis. Violent crime decreased, but the number of homicides increased, and 2014 is off to an already disturbing start.
“I’m very honest about this. Cities are judged by their homicide rate, their murder rate,” said Mayor Greg Ballard.
That’s why the mayor reinforced wheels are in motion to put extra police on city streets. More than 150 officers are going back out on the street, and 80 new police recruits come in this year.
“My initial reaction is we are over a year into a violent crime wave, and the mayor hasn’t articulated a plan on how to address it,” said John Barth, Vice president of the Indianapolis City-County Council, “We have to put addressing crime as our number one issue.”
Barth wasn’t pleased with how the mayor took on crime Thursday night. He said the city hasn’t moved fast enough and is one year behind fighting the deadly wave.
The mayor doesn’t agree with any criticism.
“I think that’s a ludicrous comment. There are always plans in place,” he said.
Outside of crime, Mayor Ballard’s pushing the message to “Live Indy.” He said he’s convening community groups to come up with ways to market the city and its diverse offerings, from urban to country life.
“We’ve been saying for years that we’ve been trying to create the kind of city people want to live in. We’ve been saying that for a while now, and we just formalized it in a strategic plan, and that’s what we are doing,” he said.
Mayor Ballard also wants Indianapolis to be a launchpad for small businesses. He said later this year, the Indy Chamber and Develop Indy will start a new program aimed at supporting and growing small businesses.
The mayor also hopes to push forward $50 million in sidewalk and more than $100 million in street repairs through “Rebuild Indy 2.” The plans must be approved by the City-County Council.