INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- A million dollar federal grant aimed at keeping teens safe in Indianapolis has been approved.
The grant will help Eskenazi Health along with the Marion County Health Department establish the Indy HeartBeat program.
Work on the program follows a series of shootings involving teens this year:
- Anthony Hughes Jr., 14, was gunned down in January outside a Popeyes restaurant on 16th street.
- Sema Jordan, 15, was shot to death in an alley near crown hill in April.
- Antonio Frierson, 16, died in February during an accidental shooting at an apartment complex.
- Angel Mejia-Alfaro, 17, was killed and two other teens hurt while buying shoes in a parking lot off west 38th street.
Those are four deadly examples of teens dying from gun violence this year.
“We will continue to see this problem until we hit it head on,” said Dannielle Gilyan with Eskenazi Health.
Dannielle says a million dollar federal grant will help launch Indy HeartBeat. While Eskenazi treats a lot of teen violence survivors, the goal of the new program is prevention.
“Our goal is to look at people that are victims of violence and hopefully prevent them from being injured in the first place,” said Gilyan.
The program is meant to complement the IMPD’s community based beat policing, where officers personally engage with the residents they serve.
“This grant will allow IMPD to partner with much needed community resources. Crime is a community issue and can be mitigated through community outreach and education programs,” said IMPD Chief Bryan Roach.
Gilyan agrees that multiple groups need to work together to help make the streets safe for teens.
“They have every right to be outdoors and be safe and to enjoy the resources Indy has to offer,” she said.
For now, the crime prevention program will focus on a two-mile area on the city's east side near 42nd and Sherman, but if Indy HeartBeat succeeds it could be expanded.
“If this grant is successful, we will take this model and move it to Marion county and have a program to prevent violence and violent injury,” said Gilyan.
As for exactly how the program will work, the details are still being worked out, but the goal is to have a plan in place by August.