MUNCIE, Ind. -- For the first time, we’re hearing what the focus will be for the new version of Indy’s Ten Point Coalition in Muncie.
Like the Indy organization, the goal of “Enough is Enough” is to reduce crime and gun violence. For months, they've been working with Ten Point leaders to learn how the Indy strategy could be adapted to Muncie.
Today, they held a press conference to outline how they plan to do that.
“A lot of people that’s out there on a street corner, they don’t want to really be out there,” said Marwin Strong, the leader of “Enough is Enough”. “They just need a helping hand.”
Marwin Strong’s “Enough is Enough” organization aims to be that helping hand.
For the first time, he and city officials, law enforcement and clergy outlined their priorities.
“Summer jobs, crisis intervention programs and positive community and police relations,” said Mayor Dennis Tyler. “If we get nothing accomplished but that this year, we’re way ahead of where we were this time last year.”
Representatives from the Unity Center and Sheriff’s Office all stated the need for improvements in community policing to earn trust.
“A lot in the community don’t believe in the police officers and the police officers don’t believe in them,” said Strong.
Trust, in turn, they hope leads to better reporting of crimes.
“The biggest problem we face is nobody wants to report,” said Carl Malone, the Unity Center’s program director. “Who’s going to report on their own kids that’s got a .22 in their backpack?”
He asked the crowd to raise their hands if they would report their own child. Only four or five, including the sheriff, raised their hands.
One parent said they would report if there were options for safe surrender or other options to report a handgun and teach their children without saddling their kids with a criminal record.
Ten Point leaders spoke up to say that is an option they've made available at times in Indy and that they could work with “Enough is Enough” leaders to figure out how they can do that too.
All three goals— improved community-police relations, summer jobs and crisis intervention programs—require significant resources to get off the ground.
Crisis intervention resources, particularly those that would help deal with drug addiction, were a priority everyone seemed to acknowledge lacks a clear path forward.
“Problem is there’s not nearly enough treatment centers, there’s not nearly enough beds and there’s no money coming from Indianapolis or the federal government to assist in these programs,” said Delaware County Prosecutor Jeffrey Arnold.
That funding, Arnold says, is desperately needed to save young people from drug addiction and the criminal behavior that often follows.
“I, about six years ago, publicly stated that I was going to incarcerate Delaware County out of the meth problem,” said Arnold. “The numbers went up every year. It doesn't work. Zero tolerance policies mean you don’t have any other good ideas.”
Arnold hopes this set of ideas and the spirit of collaboration does work. He and other city officials noted the progress Ten Point has made in the Indy neighborhoods it operates in.
“A lot of people need help,” said Strong. “They need a first, second, third and fourth chance and maybe even many more than that.”
One of the biggest questions tonight for all of those involved is how to reach those students and the kids whose parents aren’t as involved in their lives. Many jobs programs have requirements regarding grades, past convictions and age.
“Enough is Enough” hopes to help the teens and young adults who wouldn’t qualify. The mayor says he’s personally tackling the challenge of finding business partners and money.
“We can’t tell them, if you do this we’re going to find you a job and then we don’t find them a job because then we lose our reputation with them,” said Tyler.
The mayor says he’s starting work now with city council to connect with business partners so they can launch the program starting this summer break.