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IMPD fighting crime with social services sweep

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- Indianapolis Metropolitan police officers are using social services to fight crime.  Officers hit the streets in a near east side community, going door-to-door offering to help neighbors.

“We picked this neighborhood to come in and give them a hand to get ahead of the crime and to get ahead of the problems,” said Lt. Brian Churchill with IMPD’s Community Engagement Office.

The focus was on a five-block area between New York Street and Michigan Street.  Officers asked neighbors what they needed and provided anything from food to flu shots.  Officers were also able to connect people with community resources such as rent and utility assistance.

“I signed up for health insurance first and foremost that’s why I came down,” said Deanna Davis, who lives on the near east side.

There was a food giveaway in a nearby parking lot.  Within a mile from the lot, police have been called out more than 80 times so far this month.  Officers believe part of the reason for the high crime rate is because of the need for social services.

“Our objective here is to fix the social problems, give people a hand, a hand up. Fix the social issues that lead to crime,” said Churchill.

These types of "social service sweeps" are a step to build a better relationship between neighbors and law enforcement.  Officers feel it’s a deeper approach to crime prevention.

“If you have a domestic disturbance, there’s usually the causation behind that, what if as police we can help with that causation. You don’t get the 911 call the next week for the domestic (issue),” said Churchill.

Some near east side neighbors left with a bag of groceries, while others left with a sense of community.

“Yes, this neighborhood needs a lot of help with everything community,” said Vivian Maxey, who lives on the near east side.

So far this year there have been five "social services sweeps" and others have been in areas where there was a recent criminal sweep.

“This is going to be the new normal way of the police department operating from our angle, the community engagement office angle,” said Churchill.

IMPD is planning to do more "social services sweeps." No dates or locations have been set.