INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's reassignment of some officers to walking beats in many of Indianapolis’ toughest neighborhoods has resulted in a dramatic decrease in shootings.
Metro Police report that the overall percentage of the city’s fatal shootings in those beat areas has decreased by eight percent, while the percentage of non-fatal shootings fell ten percent.
Chief Troy Riggs has said all along that as more officers have personal contact with residents, and the city seeks to address social and post-arrest family issues, cooperation will improve in communities, and neighbors and clergy agree.
“What law enforcement is offering now is not just, ‘Let's lock ‘em up and throw away the key and walk away and forget about it,’” said Pastor Horatio Luster of Peacekeepers Indianapolis. “It's like we are now involved with more social issues that continue to plague that family and that community.
IMPD has teamed up with Gleaners to bring food pantries to the community and often sends in teams of public health and safety specialists to work with families whose members are picked up during drug sweeps.
“The change had to come in for the people and it has to continue to come in for the people, not just what the city, the mayor, the police chief, even the church’s doing,” said Luster during a recent stroll through Blackburn Terrace on the city’s northeast side. “We’re seeing more people wanting to help their community.”
“The reputation of Blackburn Terrace was no one wanted to be out here, but now Blackburn Terrace is a better place,” said April Sturdivant, a resident since 2009, “because of our management and the police presence we have out here now. What’s going on now is that our kids can come out and play, we don’t have to worry about them getting hurt, shot or beaten up.”
During the early 1990s, gangs such as the Ghetto Boyz ruled Blackburn Terrace where a young girl named LaShonda Davis died as the result of bullet meant for someone else.
Since then, intelligence driven policing and more community interaction has reduced murders by 86 percent in Indianapolis public housing.
Arrests and total crime are down 50 percent.
“I think the mayor and the chief is doing what they’re supposed to,” said Sturdivant. “Now that we’re all talking, everything we see, we’re letting people know.”