INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.– The murder rate is up in Indianapolis but violent crime is down, and one investigator said it’s because they’re targeting the most dangerous criminals in the city.
Fox59 rode along with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department officers Wednesday, as they work to fulfill the police chief’s promise to make the city safer this summer.
“We’re gonna approach. It’ll be real quick,” said Det. John Howard. “It’ll be real straight then we’re gonna hit it.”
Howard wheeled his unmarked truck, confiscated from a drug dealer, around the corner at 35th Street and North Capitol Avenue and aimed for the south half of the double on the eastside of the street.
Investigators sought the help of the Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) in tracking down a man suspected in a running gun battle at a nearby gas station last week and the distinctive blue Chevy he was last seen driving.
“The driver of that vehicle , the target of the investigation today, has a serious criminal history as a serious violent felon by statute in Indiana and threw a gun out of the car during the traffic stop,” said Sgt. Garth Schwomeyer.
Detectives were looking for Jay Page who was arrested on a narcotics charge after the gas station shooting.
“After he was already in jail, we received information that when he first saw the police, he tossed the handgun back in the alley,” said Howard, “and he went back there to retrieve it.”
Investigators thought Page brought his tossed gun home.
“Police search warrant!” shouted the detectives as they hit the door. “Show your hands!”
Inside a woman and a teenager boy sat on a living room couch as officers searched the two-story house.
“This is a search warrant,” one of the officers read off the document in his hands, “signed by a judge. “This search warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to check to search and seize the following: firearms, firearms parts, ammunition.”
Ammunition, spent shells and bullets were scattered on the property and the neighbor’s porch. A small amount of marijuana, too, but there was no gun. There was also no Page, until a neighbor called him.
“What you messing with me for? What you messing with me for?” shouted Page as he walked up to the home and was searched by an officer. “I don’t need no weapons. I don’t have no weapons. I don’t need none of that.”
Page’s girlfriend and her two small children arrived as she argued with her boyfriend to not speak to police.
Detectives said last week, during their first search of the house, they discovered a loaded gun hidden by a shirt on the floor next to the mattress where one of the woman’s children was sleeping.
The VCU will play a key role this summer in IMPD Chief Rick Hite’s plans to crack down on violence.
“We do a variety of cases, be it narcotics, guns or things like that,” said Schwomeyer. “The people that we target usually have a substantial criminal history of a violent nature and those are the people out here shooting people in the neighborhood.
“These neighborhoods are filled with people doing the right thing. There’s a few bad seeds here and there that are causing a majority of the problems and that’s what we do. We work undercover to establish surveillance on those individuals and extract them from the problems.”
Targeted patrols, parole and probation sweeps and manhunts of wanted subjects will address the most dangerous people on city streets this summer.
“The VCU is responsible for tracking down dangerous persons assigned to us by homicide, robbery, aggravated assault detectives,” said Howard. “We also work closely with the districts. Just in general, we’re out here trying to get these guys we consider serious violent felons off the streets.”
Directed patrols have already arrested dozens such subjects and seized several guns in the past two months.
The criminal homicide rate in Indianapolis is up approximately 50 percent compared to a year ago though violent crime is off more than four percent.
“You go to jail, you get out. You go to jail, you get out,” said Howard. “It’s just a revolving door and we try to take these penalties and make them a little stiffer so they spend a little bit of time in jail so they don’t come back out to the street quite as soon.”
Page was unhappy that he was headed to jail for marijuana in a house where he said he no longer stays.
“I ain’t had a run in with the law since 2007,” he said, laughing at his depiction of a dangerous felon. “All false evidence.”