As Indy’s homicide rate rises, one neighborhood bucks the trend

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Dec. 8, 2014) - It was a violent weekend in Indianapolis.  In 24 hours, four separate shootings left two people dead.

It’s a piece of a larger trend that has only gotten worse.  As of Dec. 7, Indy has had 141 homicides this year. This time last year, there had been 129.

But in one zip code, they’re bucking the trend.  Homicides there are down and peace has come in its place. The 46208 zip code was at one point one of the most violent and deadly neighborhoods in Indianapolis.  Those days are long gone though. In fact, there hasn’t been a homicide there in 164 days.

“This is my area, 46205, 46208. I live in 46208,” said Eddie Owens.

Owens is fighting a war.

“They’re tired of it and a lot of them want to get out,” he said.

The enemy is the crime that has gripped his city. His weapons are his words.

“There is no certain way that you can get them to stop except for continue to talk to them, continue to try to get their eyes to be open to the death and the homicides, and their friends, 15, 16 years old, laying there,” he said.

Owens is a street outreach worker for the Indy Ten Point Coalition, a group that works to end violent crime.  While the homicide rate in his city is growing, it has hit a dead end on the streets he patrols.

“What’s working here is consistency,” he said.

There hasn’t been a homicide in the 46208 zip code in 164 days.  There have been three this year, compared to 11 last year. He attributes the drop to constant conversations.

With young people he takes it to the court.

“I play basketball, I play a lot of basketball,” he said.

Every night, he stops at the local McDonald's.  He shakes hands and makes sure his neighbors know that he cares.

“That’s what’s working over here in this community--the consistency and the communication and the building of that relationship between us and the neighborhood,” he said.

“People like Indianapolis Ten Point Coalition, the church, community organizations, all that working together helps keep a neighborhood one that people want to live and thrive in,” said Pastor Philip James.

James pastors at Mt. Zion Baptist Church that sits in the heart of the 46208 neighborhood.  He said every section of this city has churches and community centers, but the people in his neighborhood all have their hearts headed in the same direction.

“Whatever is going on here that is helpful can be replicated in other places. It is meeting with the neighbors. It is churches getting outside the walls and walking in the neighborhood,” he said.

The work in the 46208 is far from over though. It is considered a target crime area for the city of Indianapolis and according to city stats, its criminal homicide numbers are 1,000 percent higher than the city average.